The head of Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem delivered a speech critical of Israel in front of the United Nations Security Council, drawing a rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, in his speech before the Security Council on Thursday, focused on the recent Gaza protests and the planned evacuation of the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.
He called Israel’s settlement enterprise “a calculated and deliberate process of slowly splitting up an entire people, fragmenting their land, and disrupting their lives: separating Gaza from the West Bank, breaking up the West Bank into small enclaves, and walling off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
“Now the time has come for action,” he added.
He compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the American South under Jim Crow laws, and to apartheid in South Africa.
“To Prime Minister Netanyahu I say this: you will never silence us – nor the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who reject a present founded on supremacy and oppression, and stand for a future built on equality, freedom and human rights,” he said.
El-Ad last addressed the Security Council in October 2016, near the end of the Obama administration.
Riyad Mansour, whose title is Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, followed El-Ad in addressing the council, calling the upcoming planned evacuation and demolition of Khan al-Ahmar a “war crime.”
Netanyahu called B’Tselem’s conduct “a disgrace that will be remembered as a short and temporary episode in our nation’s history.”
“As our soldiers prepare to defend Israel’s security, B’Tselem’s director chooses to deliver a speech full of lies at the U.N. in an attempt to help Israel’s enemies,” he said in a statement.