The Security Council must condemn Hamas for Monday’s rocket attack that destroyed a home north of Tel Aviv, Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon told The Algemeiner.
“It is unacceptable that Hamas is committing a double war crime, using Gaza’s civilian population as a human shield and targeting our towns,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in an interview on the sidelines on the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, shortly before returning to New York City ahead of a Security Council debate on the Middle East scheduled for Tuesday.
For Danon, Monday’s incident — in which seven people were wounded — was personal, as he has lived in Mishmeret, the moshav where the rocket hit in the early morning hours — for the past decade and a half.
“It shows what Hamas is doing — targeting civilians,” Danon said. “And we are retaliating. The prime minister is consulting with the military and there is an ongoing operation as we speak.”
Regarding the other big news of the day, the granting of official US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Danon was effusive with praise for President Donald Trump.
“I think President Trump is recognizing reality, in general,” Danon said. “It started with the Iran nuclear deal, then the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, and now the Golan Heights. We are thankful for this, I think it’s very important. And I believe, like what happened with the embassy, the world will, in the end, accept it.”
A prominent theme at this year’s AIPAC gathering has been the need for Israel to maintain bipartisan backing in the US.
Commenting on this, Danon said, “It’s very important for us, and we do have bipartisan support. I know many leaders from both parties are attending AIPAC. I think we should acknowledge that support and be grateful for it.”
“At the same time, when you hear about antisemitism, you should denounce it,” Danon went on to say, in an apparent reference to the recent controversy surrounding statements made by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. “You should isolate it and even remove those involved [from office]. It has nothing to do with one particular party. We have it in the UK, and we have it in a number of different places. It should not be accepted.”
The 47-year-old Danon was appointed UN ambassador in 2015 following a brief stint as Israel’s science, technology and space minister. He had previously served as deputy minister of defense, before a dispute with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 led to his firing.
Asked what had surprised him most during his time at the UN so far, Danon replied, “It’s amazing what the representatives of some countries will tell you privately, compared to what they say publicly. I’ve been able to get things done with the ambassadors of Muslim nations behind the scenes. The UN is a theater, and usually it is a hostile theater for Israel. But, behind the scenes, you can do a lot of things. My goal is to make this public, but it’s a process.”
Israel and the US are currently seeking to advance a Security Council resolution targeting the financing of global terrorism.
“We are working on that, and it’s very interesting because we are able to collaborate with countries, many European countries, which do not support our approach to the Iran deal,” he said. “However, they are willing to cooperate with us on limiting the capabilities for sponsoring terrorism.”
Sometime after the Knesset elections on April 9, the Trump administration is expected to unveil an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Danon said Israel would be “open-minded” about whatever was presented.
“Unlike the Palestinians, we value the work that’s been done,” he added. “We will discuss it. But I’m not optimistic, because I hear my colleagues from the Palestinian side saying they don’t accept the US as a mediator and they don’t accept Israel as a partner, before even looking at the plan. You need two sides for real negotiations. And I think until there is a leader like Anwar Sadat, who told the Egyptian people that they had to recognize and work with Israel, nothing is going to move.”
Danon, who served as a Likud MK from 2009-2015, denied media reports in December that he would be stepping down from his UN post to run as a candidate in the upcoming elections. On Monday, Danon said he had felt his work at the UN was too important to abandon at the moment.
“But I do intend to eventually go back to public life in Israel,” he noted. “There will be more election cycles.”
However long Danon stays at the UN, there is one major goal he would like to work toward.
“It seems to me it’s about time that Israel gets a seat on the Security Council,” he said. “I think it’s something we should aim for and I feel we can get it done.”
“When I ran to become chair of the Legal Committee (in 2016), people told me it was impossible, and I proved them wrong,” Danon recalled. “We got 109 member states to support my nomination. I think we can also do it with the Security Council. It’s hard, and we’d need a lot of support from our friends, but we need to believe.”
The Algemeiner (c) 2018 . Barney Breen-Portnoy