Take ye heed every one of his neighbor, and trust ye not in any brother; for every brother acteth subtly, and every neighbor goeth about with slanders. And they deceive every one his neighbor, and truth they speak not; they have taught their tongue to speak lies, they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thy habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:3-5)
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz and United Nations delegation leader Yuval Steinitz was not impressed with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the General Assembly on Thursday.
Speaking to The Times of Israel, Steinitz also dismissed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech as anti-peace.“I think that the speech was not a speech of peace. Instead of condemning terror, it condemns those who struggle against terror. He said that we exaggerate our claims,” Steinitz explained hours after Abbas finished addressing the plenary’s general debate. “Instead of recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, he speaks about the establishment of Israel as a tragedy in terms of the “Nakba”.
Steinitz accused the Palestinian leader of “lying to the world when he said that in 1948 and in 1967, Israel attacked the Palestinians when in fact, the opposite was true.”
“We did not see any change in the tone of the Palestinian Authority’s leader,” he said.
While some accused Israel of boycotting the PA president’s address, Steinitz explained that the absence of the Israeli delegation was due to the fact that Abbas had spoken on Thursday which was the Jewish holiday of Shmini Atzeret.
After positive talks and press conference with PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, Steinitz, a former finance minister, lamented that “we didn’t hear any note or thanks for the important steps we have taken on the economic front. Instead, Abbas just continues to attack the State of Israel.”
Steinitz argued that the “main obstacles to peace are the refusal of Abbas and the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state” and continued incitement against Israelis in Palestinian schools.
Steinitz also hailed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for ruining Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “celebrations here.”
“We are on the defensive,” he said. “There is a charm and smiles attack by Rouhani that is not just a danger for us, but for the whole world.” He found that “people displayed a lot of understanding of our perspective” and believes that the advocacy of the Israeli delegation “slightly ruined Rouhani’s celebrations here.”
Steinitz credited Israel with first describing Rouhani’s approach dismissively as a “charm offensive”, a term that has stuck in the American media. He says that he has repeatedly warned statesman that Rouhani intends to “smile all the way to the bomb.”
“I think we have succeeded in both the media and among the delegations to insert a tone of doubt,” Steinitz said. “Instead of his exclamation points, we raised question marks instead.”
While Rouhani’s UNGA speech did not directly mention Israel of the Jews, a follow-up interview with CNN has sparked much controversy. It was originally reported that Rouhani told CNN that he condemned the Holocaust as a horrible crime against humanity, a sharp break from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was known as a fierce Holocaust denier. However, since the CNN interview was aired, officials in Tehran have challenged CNN’s translation of Rouhani’s remarks.
Steinitz said he also had a “very good” meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in which he called on the veteran diplomat to condemn anti-Israel incitement – which Ban did the very next day.
“I’ve had a number of good meetings with dozens of heads of state and foreign ministers, and most were very friendly,” Steinitz said, saying that he had not felt a lot of hostility against Israel at the UN headquarters.