Acting Ambassador Eitan Na’eh speaks at several locations in the South West
Mr Eitan Na’eh is Acting Ambassador between Daniel Taub leaving in July and Mr Mark Regev arriving as Ambassador. On Wednesday, Mr Na’eh was well received in two local universities and by a mostly Christian audience of about a hundred people. I was invited to attend the mostly Christian meeting.
Mr Na’eh described what he believes is needed for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. First the Palestinians need to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, meaning it is the nation of the Jews, but all religions and ethnicities are accorded equal rights and protections. The recognition needs to be sincere and any negotiations conducted in good faith. As it stands, Israel has no credible partner for negotiations; they can’t negotiate with people who want to kill them.
Secondly, Mr Na’eh stated the surrounding Arab nations would need to put aside their animosity and work for peace with Israel, which would enable mutual co-operation on regional matters and the exchange of technology. If they were to dampen the hateful rhetoric, it would give peace a better chance.
Finally, in Mr Na’eh’s opinion, the wider world needs to support Israel and treat it fairly. Organizations such as the UN and EU disproportionately target Israel with condemnations and discriminatory policies.
The Acting Ambassador acknowledged that Israel is no angel; indeed, angels do not survive in the tough neighborhood of the Middle East. Israel has its flaws like any other nation, yet others are not scrutinized nearly as much. He suggested a possible reason is that Israel is the only safe country in the region, and the only one where the press is free to say whatever they like. Reporters get it easy in Israel as opposed to Syria or Yemen or Iraq, whose conflicts are far worse, so they write about Israel and Palestine instead.
Mr Na’eh also highlighted the bias in the media and other organizations, especially the UN. In particular, he talked about how the UN has two refugee agencies, one for Palestinians and one for all other refugees in the rest of the world. The rules are different as to whom they consider refugees; for all other people, refugees need to have been in the country for a large part of their lives before being displaced, whereas Palestinians only need to have lived in what is now Israel for two years before being displaced, and all of their descendants also get refugee status, which is not true of any others.
Also covered was France’s reaction to the terror attacks, such as bombing civilians in Syria and raiding houses in Paris. One such incident was when they had 200 soldiers surrounding a building containing three terrorists; 5000 bullets were fired by the soldiers during this standoff, but no-one accused the French of using disproportionate force, not for that, or for bombing Raqqa.
Mr Na’eh does not believe the West Bank settlements are an obstacle to peace; rather, in his opinion, they are the easiest problem to solve. He reiterated Israel’s desire for peace, and said that when the Palestinian leadership also wants it, Israel will be more than happy to reciprocate.
The Embassy continues to stimulate people throughout the UK to support Israel, and the Ambassador encouraged the audience to get active in their support of Israel. Most of the audience showed their enthusiasm for this, and the Ambassador received warm support throughout. Israel can count on much support from the South West.