Israel rejected United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry member Miloon Kothari's apology for claiming social media is controlled by the "Jewish lobby" and suggesting that Israel should not be allowed to be part of the UN.
"The hollow apology of COI member Miloon Kothari is a pathetic and unconvincing maneuver, which doesn't compensate for the long record of anti Israeli and antisemitic statements made by him and the other COI members," Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
"In our view, in light of the antisemitic and anti-Israeli statements of the commissioners, and the fact that they do not meet the minimal standards of neutrality and impartiality required from individuals in these positions in the UN, Kothari and his colleagues must resign immediately. The COI in its entirety must be disbanded. If the UN is committed to fighting antisemitism and to upholding its values, this is the only reasonable and acceptable result," the ministry added.
In an interview last week with Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist blog, Kothari said, "We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by whether it's the Jewish lobby or it's the specific [nonprofit groups]. A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us."
He added that the commission "will get to the apartheid question, at some point in the future, because we will be looking at discrimination in general, from the River to the Sea."
"I would go as far as to raise the question of why [Israel is] even a member of the United Nations. The Israeli government does not respect its own obligations as a U.N. member state. They, in fact, consistently, either directly or through the United States, try to undermine U.N. mechanisms."
Kothari's comments were condemned as antisemitic by Jewish organizations around the world, over a dozen democratic governments, and even UN officials.
Earlier today, Kothari sent a letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council in which he said that he "sincerely regret and unequivocally apologize for using the words 'the Jewish Lobby.' The offense I have caused by using these words has deeply distressed me."
Kothari said his use of the term 'Jewish Lobby' was "completely wrong" and "incorrect, inappropriate, and insensitive."