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Palestine in Front Row at ATT, in Corner, No Status Upgrade, Only at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 3 -- It was six o'clock when the "question of Palestine" was resolved, in its fashion, in the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Palestine's Riyad Mansour told Inner City Press and come and see.

There in Conference Room 1, Palestine took its seat in the front row, between the Holy See and Afghanistan.

  Click here for re-tweeted Inner City Press photograph.

But it got no upgrade in status, and as opponents of any upgrade told Inner City Press, "the credentials committee would have to operate by consensus." So no hope there either.

Two days of wrangling resulted in a seat in the front row, but way off in the corner by the wall. They were not, as requested, between Palau and Panama, as a party to the ATT.

The Holy See spoke out, saying its rights were violated, it was to have been the "all states" format. Afterward Mansour embraced the representative of the Holy See, and there was applause in the Conference Room.

Palestine also has maintained, as they did yesterday, this the ATT is an "all states" conference in which they can participate. They say "even the US knows this," but is using its muscle to scare other conferees. "They threaten to pull out, and even our supporters get scared."

Responding to the theory that Egypt "used" them, Palestine says that Egypt has suggested a number of compromises to get the conference started.

The US has dangled an openness to language on ammunition. On this, rather than trying to bring the UN "up" to the US standard, the US is opposing such a rising. Why?

A key language point in the ATT involves how to view the human rights records and dangers of arms purchasers -- merely to "take into account," or ignore it? Or to "shall not" sell to them? The solution, if there is one, will be in the middle. And if it is too weak, countries like Mexico will leave. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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