Israel urges UN Secretary-General to cancel dismissal of senior official who condemned Islamic Jihad’s rocket launch in Palestine

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday to reverse a decision by one of the organization’s offices to dismiss its director after she tweeted condemnation Islamic Jihad in Palestine firing rockets at Israel.

Alleging that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has capitulated to Palestinian activists along with local staff to decide to remove Sarah Moscroft from her position, Erdan wrote in a letter to Guterres: [them] The “unwritten veto” of UN statements clearly contradicts the basic principles of objectivity and impartiality that the UN claims to uphold.

A UN spokesperson revealed to The Times of Israel on Saturday that Moscroft will be given a new role, five days after her tweet sparked an uproar among pro-Palestinian activists.

“Relieved to see a cease-fire agreement to end hostilities affecting Palestinians and Israeli civilians. Such indiscriminate rocket fire by Islamic Jihad provokes a condemnable Israeli response. Moscroft wrote that the safety of all civilians is of paramount importance – the ceasefire must be adhered to.

She later deleted the post and tweeted an apology the next day, saying, “One of my previous tweets was wrong and I deleted it. I sincerely apologize for my misjudgment. All civilians – everywhere – should be able to live in peace.”

Explaining the decision to dismiss Moscroft, OCHA Deputy Spokesperson Jens Laerke said, “OCHA has been in the occupied Palestinian territory for 20 years, working to meet humanitarian needs, guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and humanity. More than two million people in the occupied Palestinian territory are seeking assistance – they remain our focus and our only priority.”

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In his letter to Guterres, Erdan acknowledged that Israel often did not agree with the positions taken by Muscroft and publicly expressed its opposition. However, it did so in a “normative way” befitting a democracy.

Accordingly, “Israel is alarmed to see that Palestinian anger over the tweets will quickly turn into ending the ability of a senior UN staff member to retain her job and express herself. This represents a clear UN capitulation to threats and intimidation, and constitutes a highly problematic benchmark,” Erdan wrote.

File: Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Israel Mission to the United Nations)

At best, this is a recipe for misguided self-censorship by UN officials. In the worst case, Erdan said, it is a recipe for UN officials to exclusively stress the Palestinian narrative, even if it conflicts with facts on the ground, honest reports, or Israel’s legitimate interests.

He pointed out that “al-Qaeda” also emerged last year when the director of the Gaza office of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees was transferred and eventually replaced after an interview he gave to an Israeli news channel where he agreed that the Israeli air strikes on Gaza during the Gaza conflict in May 2021 were “accurate”.

In a way, it’s always open season to criticize Israel without repercussions. But if a UN staff member dares to speak out against Palestinian terrorism, there will be an immediate backlash for fear of retaliation.

Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel in Gaza City, August 7, 2022 (AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa, File)

On the other hand, no such punitive measures have been taken against a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians after they claimed Erdan wrote last month that the “Jewish lobby” is controlling social media.

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We request that Mrs. Moscroft’s case be examined with the utmost concern. We call on the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations to reverse this regrettable decision, which is seen as a reward for intimidation and threat. While Israel supports constructive engagement with UN officials and agencies, we cannot accept such blatant double standards,” the Israeli ambassador added.

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