United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern with Israel’s “occupation” in the disputed territories on the Gregorian calendar’s 50th anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War, which saw Israel take control over eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from June 5-10.
Guterres, who has previously slammed critics of Israel as anti-Semites and reaffirmed Jerusalem’s Jewish roots, shifted gears by saying the Israeli “occupation” sends “an unmistakable message to generations of Palestinians that their dream of statehood is destined to remain just that, a dream; and to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.”
The U.N. leader said only a two-state solution would “achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”
“Now is the time to return to direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant U.N. resolutions, agreements and international law,” Guterres said. He blamed Israel’s “continued settlement construction,” as well as the Palestinians’ “violence and incitement” and “illicit arms buildup and militant activity in Gaza,” for advancing “a one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national and historic aspirations of both peoples.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) criticized Guterres’s “incomplete and misleading” comments, saying the Six-Day War anniversary “cannot be viewed in a vacuum.”
“It is grossly misleading to examine only the enduring effects of the war while ignoring the context in which the war took place—the belligerence of the Arab states in the spring of 1967, and the silence of the international community in the face of these threats and its failure to ensure the rights to free passage of international waterways,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization’s chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Malcolm Hoenlein, said in a statement, “We are disappointed by the absence of any reference to many events over the past seven decades including the Arab rejection of the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947; the invasion of Israel by forces from five neighboring Arab countries following Israel’s declaration of statehood in May, 1948; the provocations and violations of agreements that drove Israel into a defensive war in 1967; Israel’s strongly urging Jordan, which then occupied the West Bank, not to enter war; and the Arab League Khartoum Resolution after the Six Day War calling for no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
“By focusing [Guterres’] statement primarily on the ‘inalienable rights of the Palestinian people’, we believe the Secretary General missed an opportunity to provide meaningful support for bringing about his goal of the successful resumption of a ‘genuine peace process’, a goal shared by Israel and the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people.”
The Six-Day War’s Hebrew calendar anniversary, including Israel’s annual celebration of its reunification of Jerusalem, had been marked May 23-24.