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Ban backtracking on U.N. bias disappoints Israeli officials

JTA

August 21, 2013 | 9:47 am

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks in front of international students participating in a model United Nations Conference at the U.N. compound in Jerusalem on Aug. 16. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks in front of international students participating in a model United Nations Conference at the U.N. compound in Jerusalem on Aug. 16. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli officials said they were disappointed that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon backtracked on his statements that Israel faces bias and discrimination at the world body.

Unnamed Israeli officials made their comments Tuesday to Israeli media outlets a day after Ban amended the remarks he made late last week to Israeli college students.

Ban told the students during a meeting Aug. 16 in Jerusalem that “unfortunately because of the conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias — sometimes even discrimination.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Ban said, adding that Israel should be treated equal to the other 192 member states of the United Nations.

Asked Monday by a reporter at the U.N. what he intended to do about the bias, Ban retracted the remarks.

“No, I don’t think there is discrimination against Israel at the United Nations,” Ban said.

“The Israeli government maybe raised this issue that there’s some bias against Israel, but Israel is one of the 193 member states. Thus, Israel should have equal rights and opportunities without having any bias, any discrimination. That’s a fundamental principle of the United Nations charter. And thus, Israel should be fully given such rights.”

One unnamed senior Israeli official told Israeli media outlets that Israel was “disappointed” by the remarks.

“It’s clear that Israel has been systematically discriminated against at the United Nations, and the way to start dealing with that issue is first of all to recognize that there’s a problem,” he said. “The secretary’s comments on Friday in Jerusalem about the U.N.’s bias against Israel showed moral leadership, and we hope we’re not seeing backtracking.”

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