The UN secretary-general’s envoy for Children and Armed Conflict recommended this week to include the IDF on a blacklist of countries and organizations accused of regularly causing harm to children.
The blacklist includes terror organizations like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and Taliban, as well as African countries such as the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and others.
The list will be released soon as an appendix to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special report on the subject of children and armed conflict.
Ban is leaning towards not including the IDF on the list after facing massive pressure from Israel, which warned him that such a move will have far-reaching repercussions on Israel-UN relations.
On the other hand, the UN is also facing heavy pressure from the Palestinians, their supporters and human rights organizations to include the Israeli army on the list.
Palestinians also benefit from the support of senior officials in the UN Secretariat, who are urging Ban not to give in to Israeli pressure.
A senior UN official even claimed in a letter to Ban that Israeli representatives threatened her and her friends so that the IDF is not included on the list.
While the IDF is currently not on the list, Israeli officials said that “we won’t rest easy until the last minute.”
The secretary-general is supposed to come to a final decision on the matter in the next few days.
The envoy’s draft report includes sharp criticism of Israel’s treatment of children and mentions the fact that, according to UN figures, more than 500 children were killed and 3,300 were wounded during Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Israel sent its notes on the report, some of which were accepted with some of the wording softened. However, Israel’s main concern was precisely the appendix – the same blacklist of “leprous countries and organizations” – which could open the door to demands for sanctions against Israel.
Those leading the fight to prevent the inclusion of Israel on the list are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Ministry, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the IDF, and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor.
Last week, the Foreign Ministry held a briefing for dozens of diplomats from many countries together with the IDF and the Justice Ministry to describe the steps taken by the army to protect Israel during an armed conflict.
“We are continuing our efforts to persuade the secretary-general not to include Israel on the list,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.
“Israel-haters are threatening the United Nations and no one is complaining about them. It’s a scandal and it’s hypocrisy. There are unfortunately a lot of situations in which children are killed in zones of conflict and yet no one dares put them on the list. Do you know how many kids the Saudis have killed while bombing Yemen? I want to see the UN secretary-general’s Algerian envoy dare to include Saudi Arabia on the list.”
Netanyahu raised the issue of the list during his meeting on Wednesday with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is visiting Israel and about to announce his candidacy in the 2016 US presidential election.
Graham, who is considered a friend of Israel, told a news conference in Jerusalem, “There’s a report that may come out any day now where the United Nations is considering the State of Israel in the same category as Boko Haram when it comes to crimes against children,” he said.
“If that ever happened, if the United Nations embraced a report putting the State of Israel in the same categories with terrorist organizations in terms of the way they treat innocent people, particularly children, that would be an outrage that would not go unanswered.”
Graham warned that if the UN continues to be hostile towards Israel, it risks a confrontation with the US Congress and the suspension of American aid, which amounts to one quarter of the UN’s budget.