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Palestine's UN envoy wears 'end apartheid' mask at Security Council meeting

Israeli ambassador to UN says attacks are an attempt at 'delegitimising Israel'
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour wears a mask saying "End Apartheid" as he addresses a Security Council meeting in New York City on 23 February 2022.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour wears a mask saying "End Apartheid" as he addresses a Security Council meeting in New York City, on 23 February 2022 (AFP)

Palestine's envoy to the United Nations wore a mask saying "End Apartheid" at the monthly meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday, and urged the body to stop Israel from discriminating against Palestinians.

Riyad Mansour used the word "apartheid" at least 15 times during his address, where he called on the council to protect "our long-suffering people".

"This council may not be ready to use the word, but apartheid is -  and has been for a while now - our reality," Mansour said at UN headquarters in New York.

"Israel may be outraged by the word [but] everyone else should be outraged by the policy. Condemnations alone will never suffice to deter Israel. It is time to translate your words into actions. Actions to end apartheid."

He added that last month Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan brought a stone into the Security Council chamber so members could visualise the violence that Israelis confront from Palestinians.

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"I am so sorry, but the doors of this chamber could not fit Israeli F-16s, tanks, warships, military jeeps, drones, bombs and missiles," Mansour said.

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Mansour's remarks build off the growing number of human rights organisations labelling Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid. Human Rights Watch made the designation last year, while Amnesty International released a report saying so earlier this year.

Israel's Erdan responded first by attacking the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry and rights groups for launching "a war against the only vibrant democracy in the Middle East".

In recent reports by Amnesty and HRW, Erdan said they "have attempted to brand Israel with absurd claims and heinous accusations".

"You can see the campaign that started here today on the mask of my counterpart," Erdan said, referring to Mansour's mask.

"But make no mistake, this is a joint campaign between these organisations and the Palestinians with the mission of delegitimising Israel as a Jewish democratic state."

Last year, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) agreed to launch an investigation with a broad mandate to probe all alleged violations Israel had committed against Palestinians following its May offensive on Gaza, which killed at least 248 Palestinians including more than 60 children.

A senior Israeli official said last week that Israel would not cooperate with the probe, saying in a scathing letter that the investigation and its chairwoman were unfairly biased against Israel.

Earlier this week, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the US Congress to form a special committee "to investigate the practices of persecution and apartheid carried out by Israel against the Palestinian people".

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