Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian question

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
October 28, 2019


Thank you, Madame President.

This is one of the more complex issues that the Council has to navigate, so I want to thank the Special Coordinator for his good faith efforts, and for the even-handed perspective he brings to these briefings.

Before discussing today’s topic, I want to make brief mention of the important event that occurred over the weekend. As President Trump stated, “the world is a much safer place” following the operation by American special operations forces that resulted in the death of al-Baghdadi. I want to thank America’s fearless women and men in uniform, our intelligence community and our partners, that executed this mission flawlessly for their efforts in bringing the leader of ISIS to justice.

In my remarks on this issue last month, I largely focused on Israel, which receives a disproportionate amount of the UN’s attention when it comes to discussion of peace and security in the Middle East. This attention is unfairly negative and one-sided: in the past two years, there have been some 20 resolutions in the General Assembly either implicitly or explicitly criticizing Israel.

Today, I want to use my remarks to shed light on an actor that somehow receives far less criticism than Israel and whose behavior has never been seriously scrutinized by this Council or by the General Assembly. Hamas – a terrorist organization that oppresses the Palestinian people in Gaza through intimidation and outright violence, while inciting violence against Israel. Hamas is one of the largest obstacles to real peace and prosperity for Palestinians, and to the resolution of this conflict. So, if this institution is genuinely concerned with peace, we should be eager to examine Hamas’ behavior more closely.

To begin, Hamas exhibits a blatant lack of respect for democratic principles. In recent months, as frustrated residents of Gaza have voiced their opposition to the intolerable living conditions created by Hamas rule, Hamas has brutally beaten peaceful protestors, raided homes, and detained organizers and journalists advocating for better living standards. I condemn this behavior. We all should.

The disregard Hamas shows for the will and rights of the Palestinian people is matched only by the disregard for innocent human life. We all know that Hamas blindly fires rockets into Israel, as they have hundreds of times in 2019. But it’s important for us to understand what that means at a human level. The vast majority of rockets fired by Hamas are unguided. This means that a lethal munition is just as likely to hit a classroom full of children as it is to strike a military asset.

Can you imagine the fears of Israeli mothers who know their children may spend recess running from the playground to the bomb shelter, or of Palestinian fathers who know unguided rockets fly over the roofs under which their children sleep? I condemn these indiscriminate attacks. We all should.

And if there is anything more despicable than Hamas’ attacks on civilian areas, it is the way they treat their own children as pawns in a political game. Every Friday, Hamas encourages minors to join riots at the security fence, hoping that violence will erupt, and that the children will be injured or even killed as a result, thereby feeding their propaganda machine. A more cynical and shameful approach could not be devised. This is child abuse, plain and simple, and I condemn it. We all should.

My fellow Council members, we have a responsibility to say what is plainly true about Hamas, as well as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other militant actors in Gaza, just as we have an obligation to say what is plainly true of human rights abusers around the world. To remain silent in this instance would be an act against principle, and an insult to the Palestinian people.

And so, it is my genuine hope that this chamber, and indeed in the halls of the UN, will one day resound with the truth that we have spoken about Hamas. Lasting peace in the Middle East – and a better future for all Palestinians – depends on it.

Thank you.