(JTA) — World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for publicly admitting that there is an anti-Israel bias at the international body.
Lauder in a statement issued on Monday welcomed the “long-awaited and impactful” pronouncement by Ban during his final address to the body on Friday, but criticized him for not calling out the bias over the course of his nearly 10-year term.
“Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel,” Ban said in his address on Friday to the U.N. Security Council. “In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the U.N. to fulfill its role effectively.”
Ban said that he decided to speak about Israel and the Palestinians for his last address because: “While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of the wars in the Middle East, its resolution can create momentum for peace throughout the region.”
He reiterated that the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza have been “under military occupation” since 1967.
“Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of nearly half a century of humiliating occupation,” Ban said. “Leaders on both sides increasingly speak to their ever-more radicalized constituencies, rather than to each other.”
He called on Israeli lawmakers to withdraw the controversial bill that would legalize Israeli settlement outposts in the West Bank.
Lauder in his statement said that Ban’s term “has been replete with some of the most shocking and anti-Israel resolutions of our time, including repeated Human Rights Council decisions singling out Israel for crimes against humanity, while ignoring the fate of nationals in other parts of the world whose lives are constantly at risk due to the horror and terror of extremists in their midst, as well as UNESCO decisions that blatantly and aggressively deny Israel of its historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem and accuse Israel of aggression in its sovereign capacity. We believe that criticism of Israel can be sounded when due, but many of the resolutions of the last few years have been so clearly biased and damaging to Israel.”
While Lauder praised Ban’s final speech, he added: “It was incumbent upon Sec. Gen. Ban to issue statements such as these over the course of his near decade-long tenure, but it is encouraging to hear now, even in his waning hours in office, and we very much hope that the message will be absorbed by the bodies operating under the UN in the years to come.
Ban’s term is over at the end of the month. The new UN Secretary-General has been named as former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres.