Iran and Israel Trade Barbs at United Nations

On April 18, 2024, Iranian and Israeli officials traded barbs during a U.N. Security Council session on the situation in the Middle East. Iran defended its unprecedented April 13-14 assault on Israel with more than 330 drones and missiles as a “necessary” and “legitimate” response to Israel’s airstrike on its diplomatic mission in Damascus on April 1. The Israeli attack had killed three Revolutionary Guards generals as well as other military officials. “No member state will remain silent in the face of such a brazen and serious military attack on its embassy,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said. He claimed that Iran’s reprisal “was limited and minimal, targeting only military bases and was in line with international law.” 

Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian

Earlier at the session, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan had condemned Iran’s attack and criticized the United Nations for failing to sanction Iran or its Revolutionary Guards for supporting militias across the Middle East. Erdan labeled Amir-Abdollahian a “terrorist” and alleged that he was a member of the Revolutionary Guards. Iran’s foreign minister is “here to make a mockery of you,” Erdan told the Security Council. “He is here to show you all – in your suits and with your diplomatic niceties – that his country can launch an attack on another member state on Saturday, and then he can come here on Thursday to lecture you all on human rights and international law.”

Both the Israeli strike and the Iranian attack raised the stakes in their decades-long conflict, which dates back to 1982. For decades, Tehran had refrained from launching attacks from Iranian territory, instead providing arms, training and funds to Arab militias, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen. Iran sought to establish “a new equation” in its standoff with Israel by attacking it directly on April 13-14. “From now on, every attack by the Zionist regime will be met with a retaliation from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Major General Hosein Salami, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, warned on April 14. 

Amir-Abdollahian’s rare trip to New York City had been scheduled prior to Iran’s April 13-14 attack on Israel. The U.N. Security Council session was initially intended to focus on the war in Gaza and Palestinians. The following are excerpted remarks from the session by Amir-Abdollahian and Erdan.


Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on April 18

“The attack on the first of April on the Iranian diplomatic premises in Damascus showed yet again that this regime does not hesitate to violate the fundamental principle of the immunity of such places and people as well as the Vienna Conventions. As the majority of the members of the Security Council declared at the April 2 meeting here, the attack was a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and thus is strongly condemned.

“Regrettably, the Security Council, had not taken any action during the past months to our official and repeated requests to prevent further attacks by the Israeli regime on Iran's interests, centers and military advisories, due to the unfortunate and completely irresponsible behavior of the United States, the U.K. and France, in response to this illegal attack, failed even to issue a mere statement containing a simple condemnation!

“Mr. President,

“No member state  -- I repeat -- member state will remain silent in the face of such a brazen and serious military attack on its embassy, which is considered a symbol of its sovereignty as well as the killing of its legal, official and diplomat agents. The Islamic Republic of Iran, which until recently had shown considerable restraint against other terrorist missile attacks bearing in mind the dire situation in the region and willing to give the role of the United Nations a chance to prevent the escalation of the conflict, was faced with the continuation of the White House's green light granted to the Israeli regime as well as the continued inaction of the Security Council in preventing these attacks. Therefore it could no longer be patient against the attack on its Embassy and the attack on its sovereignty.

“Therefore, Iran's military attack on April 13th, was first and foremost, necessary because Iran had no other option; secondly, it was carried out in response to a series of attacks and recurring aggressions by the Israeli regime on Iran's interests, especially on our Embassy in Syria; Thirdly, it took place in the fulfilment of Iran's right to legitimate defense under international law; Fourthly, it was conducted by observing the criterion of non-aggression to civilian people and places; And fifthly, it focused solely on the two military bases of the Israeli regime which had been used in the attack on our Embassy, and therefore it was completely limited and proportionate in terms of scope and military requirements.

“Moreover, since it was clear that the supporters of the Israeli regime, who are unrelenting partners in its carnage in Gaza, would assist the regime in neutralizing the Iranian attack, a wide variety of weapons were used to ensure the achievement of the attack's goal i.e. legitimate defense. The attack by my country’s armed forces was limited and minimal, targeting only military bases and was in line with international law and the principle of non-aggression against civilian areas to ensure proportionality and accurate execution.

“I emphasize again: Iran's legitimate defense and countermeasures have been concluded. Therefore, the Israeli regime must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our centers, assets and interests. Certainly, in case of any illegal use of force by the Israeli regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate a bit to assert its inherent right to give a decisive and proper response to it to make the regime regret its actions. This is an unchangeable decision.”


Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan on April 18

“Colleagues, the council was not the only entity to expose its true face this week. On Saturday night, with the launch of over 300 UAVs, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles at Israel, the ayatollah regime's mask also fell. Iran exposed itself as the terrorist state that it is.

“But today marks another milestone in the ayatollah regime's blood soaked history. On April 18, 1983, a Chevrolet pickup truck packed with 2,000 pounds of explosives sped through the gates of the U.S Embassy in Beirut, crashed into the building and detonated. This blast killed 63 people. You're talking a lot about embassies, the importance of embassies. Hezbollah claimed responsibility.

“And today April 18, 2024, exactly 41 years later, this council, the Security Council will be addressed by an arch terrorist whose regime funds, arms, trains and directs Hezbollah. The ayatollah regime's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, is a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This terror organization, the IRGC, is responsible for carnage, bloodshed and destruction worldwide. From terror attacks in South America and assassination plots on European and American soil to arms trafficking in Africa and terrorist sponsorship across the Middle East, the IRGC is in the business of murder. The IRGC is a designated terrorist organization, not only in Israel, not only in the United States, in Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

“Both I and my Arab and American colleagues agree that the man who will address this council later today is a terrorist. And his presence here, on today of all days, is further proof of how the U.N. has become a haven for dictatorships and terror regimes to whitewash their crimes. Colleagues, it is Iran, Iran that ensured Hamas was able to orchestrate the October 7 massacre. It is the ayatollah regime in Tehran that has provided weaponry to Hezbollah to rain down missiles on Israeli towns and cities. It is the ayatollah regime in Tehran that has equipped the Houthis with cruise missiles to fire at merchant vessels. And it is the ayatollah regime that launched an unprecedented attack at Israel, a fellow U.N. member state, less than a week ago.

“Yet instead of designating the IRGC as a terror organization and sanctioning Iran's evil regime, the Security Council opens its doors for Iran's foreign minister, for terrorists. Can you not see what is going on here? Terror Minister Abdollahian is not here to express sorrow for his regime's brazen attack and tell this council that the Islamic Republic has changed its ways. He's here to make a mockery of you. He is here to show you all -- in your suits and with your diplomatic niceties -- that his country can launch an attack on another Member State on Saturday, and then he can come here on Thursday to lecture you all on human rights and international law. Minister Abdollahian's presence here today is making this institution a joke.

“Sadly, it is clear to every dictator and terror state that the U.N. has lost every ounce of justice, and it is now a blob of politicized plasticine that can be molded however the tyrants choose. And the council plays along with this destructive charade. Colleagues, if you still believe that this body holds any relevance, then I ask you, I even beg you, what action has been taken by the council against Iran for its attack against Israel this week?

“The foreign minister for the genocidal regime will speak here today as his country hurdles towards nuclear weapons. Has this council taken any action to prevent this? Nope. Nothing. Instead, we have gathered today to discuss the situation in Gaza. Has it occurred to any of you that the terror Minister Abdollahian is here to make sure that you focus on Gaza as opposed to his own regime's crimes? Sadly, you're being spoon fed a script. It was written by [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei and edited by [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar, a script crafted by terrorists. Due to Khamenei and Sinwar's script, terrorists commit acts of sheer evil against Israel. They exploit civilians as human shields.

“And when Israel defends itself, the U.N. will pressure Israel, Israel, to a ceasefire and ensure their survival. The terrorists know that nothing captivates the U.N.'s attention more than Israel. As long as Israel is defending itself, all other human rights violators can continue committing crimes. Your eyes will remain on Gaza as the rest of the world burns. And this is precisely what is happening today. You sit here focused again on Israel, focused on Gaza. We will hear talk of international law, human rights and many other terms this council loves to toss around. But in reality, this council as a council cares nothing about human rights or international law. You even refused to visit our communities in southern Israel -- and I invited all of you -- that were devastated by Hamas. Everything is political and distorted.

“You know better than most than the ayatollah regime is mere weeks away from nuclear capabilities. This global sponsor has proxies across the region, sowing death and destruction. But Iran has immunity here because this rogue regime has allies here on this council that protect it and its terror proxies. This is the reason why you will never designate Hamas and Hezbollah as terror organizations despite the whole world knowing that they are.”