Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to work towards freeing Israeli citizens held by the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the UN chief, who is in Israel on his last tour of the Middle East before handing over to his successor, Netanyahu both thanked him for his work and lamented the UN's often hostile stance towards Israel.
"The UN has a noble mandate to protect peace around the world and bring nations and bring nations closer together," Netanyahu stated.
"During his years of service the Secretary General has travelled the globe many times in service of these ideals, ideals which Israel shares," the prime minister said. "I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias. That's an understatement.
"But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance.
"Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.
"Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.
"So today I want to echo your words from 2013, Israel still faces bias at the UN. I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it's not just for Israel's sake. It's for the credibility of the UN.
"Because If you can unfairly and in a bias way single out a country and... just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after. And I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country."
Netanyahu then appealed directly to Ban to help free the remains of slain IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul - whose bodies were seized after they were killed in combat in Gaza during 2014's Operation Protective Edge - as well as captive Israeli civilian Avera Mengistu, a sufferer of mental illness who was kidnapped by the Islamist terror group after crossing into Gaza in September 2014.
Thanking the Secretary General for agreeing to meet with their families, Netanyahu urged him to leverage his influence to free their loved ones - who, he noted, are being held in contravention of international law.
"Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens," Netanyahu said. "It's a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas and its criminal activities is of course throwing into the winds.
"Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn't merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the earth a member state of the United Nations.
"I hope the UN will highlight Hamas's crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat and we use judicious force in this regards. I don’t know what any other country, faced with thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at our citizens, at our children, would do differently. Many have done it differently and they have not used the restraint and the responsibility that Israel uses."