October 2, 2014
NEW YORK – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon clashedTuesday evening over the killing of Palestinian civilians when Israel attacked UNRWA facilities during the Gaza fighting this summer, Israeli officials said.
Netanyahu and his advisers asked Ban to postpone a proposed UN inquiry into the incidents, the officials said.
Israeli officials and UN diplomats said that much of the meeting dealt with the situation in Gaza and the setting up of a UN inquiry board. The conversation quickly morphed into an argument between Netanyahu and Ban, with each man rejecting the other’s position and the tension increasing.
An Israeli official said Ban was very emotional about the civilian casualties in Gaza and the importance of finding a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. He said Israel had acted disproportionately in the Strip.
Netanyahu said Israel had done everything to prevent harm to civilians in Gaza, and that Israel was being discriminated against. He said Hamas’ acts should be investigated because “they’re the ones who committed war crimes.”
Ban said UN facilities in war zones were supposed to be immune from attack. The civilians sheltering there were hostages of those who fired rockets, so it was wrong to fire back and endanger their lives, he said, adding that such attacks contravened international law.
Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit told Ban that the military police were already investigating the attack on the UN facility in Beit Hanoun, where 15 Palestinian civilians were killed. He asked Ban to postpone the launching of the inquiry board until Israel had completed its own probe.
The UN officials did not pledge to do so, but suggested consultations among both sides’ legal advisers. After the meeting, a UN diplomat said the announcement on the inquiry board would be made when Ban decided the timing was right.