UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors engaged in a rare shouting match in the U.N. Security Council on Monday, reflecting Israel’s growing consternation at the upsurge in Palestinian attacks against civilians and Palestinian frustration at the failure to achieve its dream of a truly independent state.
Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon started the heated exchange at the end of his speech during Monday’s monthly council meeting on the Middle East.
Looking across the council table at Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour, he demanded: “Will you condemn Palestinians who commit terror attacks against Israelis?”
Mansour, whose initial response was not heard because his microphone was off, retorted when it was turned on: “We condemn the killing of all innocent civilians including Palestinian civilians. Do you do the same?”
During Israel’s war against Gaza militants in 2014, more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, according to U.N. figures.
Since the current wave of unrest began in September, Palestinian attackers have killed 28 Israelis and two Americans and at least 189 Palestinians have been killed. On Monday, a bus exploded in Jerusalem wounding at least 15 people in what police were calling a “terror attack.” Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force against assailants, and in some cases, killing innocent civilians.
Neither Danon nor Mansour got an answer to their initial question, but the Israeli ambassador wasn’t giving up.
Danon accused the Palestinians of teaching “hatred” in schools and naming streets after “terrorists” and demanded that these practices stop.
“You pay the families of terrorists,” he said. “You glorify terrorism. Shame on you for doing that.”
Mansour shot back: “We don’t.”
Danon, undeterred, went on: “Shame on you for glorifying terrorism.”
Mansour retorted: “Shame on you for killing thousands of Palestinian children.”
After another heated exchange, China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi banged his gavel and told the Israeli ambassador to continue with his statement.
But Danon ignored him, again shouting at Mansour, saying: “You cannot condemn terrorism. You cannot say it here … Shame on you for not being able to say it.”
Mansour responded but his microphone was turned off.
When it was turned on, he shouted back: “Let my people be free. You are occupiers. You are colonizers. Leave us alone.”
The Israeli-Palestinian exchange followed a briefing to the Security Council by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said the latest killings “have only deepened the divisiveness, hatred and grief” on both sides.
Mansour said the Palestinians are moving ahead on a Security Council resolution that would address illegal Israeli settlements and aim at de-escalating the volatile situation, rebuilding trust and moving toward “a just, lasting, comprehensive peace.”
Danon reiterated that when the Palestinians end their “campaign of hate and violence,” and teach respect for all people in their schools, “they will find a partner ready to work with them for the promise of peace.”
China’s Wang, obviously annoyed at the shouting match, urged all to speakers to “keep order in this chamber in order to reflect the solemnity of the question we are discussing.”