Hadash Lawmaker Meets UN Secretary-general in New York

MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of Hadash-Ta’al joint list, met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in New York on Friday. The meeting was scheduled following far-right Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory on November 1, and ahead of the formation of a new racist Israeli government. Odeh was expected to present Guterres with concerns regarding the nature of the government and its likely impact on Arab-Palestinian national minority in Israel and Palestinian residents of the occupied territories.

MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of Hadash-Ta’al joint list, met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in New York, December 9, 2022 (Photo: Hadash)

Guterres also requested it be kept secret in order to prevent the meeting being used for political purposes. Odeh had said he had low expectations for the meeting, but wished to alert the United Nations organizations about the likely developments in Israel once the new government is sworn in, and the threat it poses to the Palestinians and to Israel’s Arab community, who wish to preserve their rights as a national minority.

“The cause of this devastating problem is the systematic exclusion of Arab Palestinian citizens from all parts of society by many successive Israeli governments,” Odeh said, lamenting the unequal access to housing and limited investment in schools, hospitals, and social services in Arab towns. “Some politicians in the Israeli government have attempted to blame Arab-Palestinian citizens, declaring this a ‘cultural problem.’ This is false, racist, and absolutely unacceptable.”

This is the first time that a Hadash lawmaker was invited to meet the United Nations secretary-general for a one-on-one meeting in New York. Haaretz learned that Odeh kept the meeting under wraps, as he feared that the Israeli delegation at the United Nations, headed by Ambassador Gilad Erdan of Likud, would try to cancel it on the grounds that such meetings require advance coordination.

The last time a Hadash MK met with a senior UN official, it led to massive pushback from Zionist lawmakers and far-right government officials back home. Fellow Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman met with UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo in 2018, similarly imploring the international community to act against the then recently passed racist Nation-State Law, which critics said elevated Israel’s Jewish character over its democratic one.

On past week Odeh addressed J Street’s National Conference in Washington delivering a 15-minute speech that laid out the Hadash commitment to a two-state solution. He told the conference that Israel, more than ever, finds itself at a crossroads between a future of occupation, apartheid and war, and a future of peace, democracy and equality for all. Odeh said he worries “for those who speak out against occupation and apartheid, for all minorities, for my own children.” It is difficult, Odeh added, “to overstate just how dangerous this moment is.”

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=30726