United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admitted in a rare encounter with Israeli students last week that the organisation he heads is biased against Israel.
During his visit to Israel, last Friday Mr Ban met with students at the College of Management participating in a UN programme. When asked by one of the students on the UN’s perceived hostility towards Israel, he said that “unfortunately, because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias and sometimes even discrimination”.
On Monday, Mr Ban appeared to backtrack, telling an Israel Radio reporter: “No, I don’t think there is discrimination against Israel at the UN.” However, he added: “Israel should have equal rights and opportunities without having any bias… Israel should be fully given such rights.”
Mr Ban said he had high hopes for the recently renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He said: “this time I expect real peace”.
Secretary-General Ban is seen by Israeli diplomats as one of the friendliest UN chiefs in memory.
They stress, however, that even he is limited in how far he can counteract the hostility inherent in the organisation — especially in parts over which the secretary-general has little control, such as the UN Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva.