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21 April 2017, 03:00 | Terri Saunders
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says Iran, not Israel, bears blame for Middle East crisis
"For decades they have conducted terrorist acts across the region".
The council holds a monthly meeting on the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
The United States on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to devote less attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and make Iran's "incredibly destructive" activities a priority in the Middle East. "This is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council". She wants to take the focus off Israel and tackle the issues regarding Iran.
The plea appeared to resonate with a number of states joining the debate, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as European states and some in Africa, including Ethiopia.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" to destabilize countries in the Middle East as the Trump administration launched a review of its policy toward Tehran, including a 2015 nuclear deal. He added that the nuclear deal "completely ignored all of the other serious threats that Iran poses". Haley, as a Cabinet-level Trump administration official, will be part of that review, USA officials said.
"It should become this council's priority in the region". The same is true for the United Nations Security Council.
The council has been receiving monthly reports highlighting the "Palestinian question" since 2000 and holding a debate on the topic each quarter since 2010.
Palestinian representative to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, said that the U.N. resolution labeling settlements illegal is not "not anti-Israel but "anti-settlements" and "anti-violence". Former President Barack Obama allowed the council to pass that measure in the closing weeks of his administration by having the USA abstain rather than exercise its veto power.
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Iranian Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo minced no words when it was his turn to speak, accusing the USA and Israel of seeking "to remove the Palestinian issue that is central to all the conflicts in the Middle East from these open debates". He urged that Israel's settlement construction, which is illegal under worldwide law, be halted. "Ending the occupation and realizing a two-state solution will not solve all the region's problems, but as long as the conflict persists, it will continue to feed them".
Iran's U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo replied to Haley's remarks with vigor in this new environment of U.S. - Iran tension.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley branded Iran the "chief culprit" of conflicts in the Middle East and vowed to work with Washington's partners to demand Iran comply with United Nations resolutions.
Iran's ballistic missile tests defy Security Council resolutions and further undermine the stability in the region.
The 2015 Iran deal also angered traditional USA allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, which says it's battling Iranian proxies in a war in neighboring Yemen. Western states have blamed the Assad regime, allied with Iran, for the attack.
Also on Thursday, President Trump said Iran is "not living up to the spirit of the Obama-era nuclear accord". "We are moving from a position of accommodation to one of confrontation across multiple fronts".
"If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia, Hizballah", Haley said.
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