UNITED NATIONS – Israel (search) hopes its disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank will end "Israel bashing" at the United Nations (search) and lead to peace with the Palestinians, Israel's U.N. ambassador said.
For most of its history, Israel has found itself nearly alone at the United Nations, supported only by the United States and a few other countries while facing dozens of Arab and Muslim states that have pushed anti-Israel resolutions in the General Assembly and the Security Council (search).
On the day that Israel started its pullout from Gaza, U.N. envoy Dan Gillerman told a news conference Monday that "it is time for the United Nations to acknowledge Israel's actions" and to show that it not only supports the pullout "but is doing something to demonstrate that support."
"We therefore hope that in the United Nations there will be no more business as usual as far as the Middle East is concerned, no more business as usual as far as Israel is concerned, no more Israel bashing, no more ongoing resolutions which keep repeating themselves time after time after time," he said.
Gillerman said Israel would like to see "a more positive and a less combative General Assembly" that recognizes that "something dramatic and historic has happened" and stops the resolutions, monitoring mechanisms and condemnations.
The United Nations was created in the wake of the Holocaust. It voted soon after, in 1947, to carve out two countries in Palestine, one Jewish, the other Arab, but the Palestinians' share was lost in the 1948 Mideast war with parts divvied up among Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
In its younger years, Israel was an active member of the United Nations. But after the 1967 and 1973 Mideast wars, a coalition of developing countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia began concerted attacks on Israel.
In 1975, the General Assembly voted to equate Zionism with racism, a move that all but shattered relations. It was repealed in the 1990s but Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that "deep and painful scars remain" for both sides.
Gillerman called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw from Gaza and four West Bank settlements "the boldest and most courageous step any Israeli leader has embarked on, possibly since the establishment of the state of Israel" — and he said it must be supported by the United Nations.
Israel hopes Annan will show his support for the disengagement "in a very real way," he said. Though Israel isn't seeking resolutions of support for the pullout from either the Security Council or General Assembly, he said, "we would be very happy" to get them.
Shortly after his press conference, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Annan believes the start of Israel's disengagement is "a moment of promise and hope" that will revive the road map to peace sponsored by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
"I truly believe that this more than ever is a case of `it's now or never,"' Gillerman said. "If this fails, it will be decades, generations, before history presents us with the same leadership, with the same boldness, and with the same ability to carry out this very painful and heart-wrenching step."