For UN, Ban's Meeting with Israel Was "Purely a Courtesy
Call" In Run-Up to Air Strikes
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 27 -- In the run-up to
today's Israeli air strikes on Gaza, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela
Shalev on December
23 met with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy
Okabe, at that day's noon briefing, what the meeting had been about. That the expiration of the cease fire in Gaza
would have been discussed seemed obvious. The question was intended to
whether any statement as to timing had been made by the Israeli
get you a readout," Ms. Okabe said. Video here.
December 23, Ban's Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press the
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/23/2008 3:31:10 P.M.
Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Your question at noon
Regarding the Secretary-General's
meeting with the Israeli Permanent Representative today, it was purely
"Purely a courtesy
call"? That is the phrase used when
diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo
opportunity with the Secretary-General. [The phrase was even inserted
into the UN's
transcript, here, at least as of December 26.]
December 26, Inner City Press asked a senior UN official who spoke on
of anonymity, given the culture of the 38th floor, why Ban's
Office would have issued such a summary. "It doesn't help us," the
official answered with exasperation. "In part it's that the
and her office are not in the loop about what's going on in the UN,
particularly on the thirty-eighth floor. Also they seem to run scared,
to say the wrong thing. But this 'courtesy call' phrase is laughable,
us look laughable."
later, when the deadly air strikes began, nobody was laughing.
UN's Ban with Israel's Tzipi Livni last
month: just another courtesy call?
through his Spokesperson's Office, a three-paragraph canned statement:
Sent: 12/27/2008 10:51:53 A.M.
Eastern Standard Time
Subj: URGENT: UN's Ban Ki-moon on
Gaza and southern Israel
Statement attributable to the
Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
on the situation in Gaza and
The Secretary-General is deeply
alarmed by today’s heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the
of violence in southern Israel. He appeals for an immediate
to all violence.
While recognizing Israel's
security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza,
firmly reiterates Israel's obligation to uphold international
human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the
injuring of civilians. He condemns the ongoing rocket attacks by
militants and is deeply distressed that repeated calls on Hamas for
attacks to end have gone unheeded.
The Secretary-General reiterates
his previous calls for humanitarian
supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed civilian
is making immediate contact with regional and international leaders,
Quartet principals, in an effort to bring a swift end to the violence. New York, 27 December 2008
One wag asked if
these immediate contacts
were, by the same logic, "courtesy calls"?
UN General Assembly
President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, with whom Israel's Ambassador
a scheduled meeting this month after d'Escoto in essence
called her a liar, had left New York for Nicaragua on Christmas
Eve, just after
Assembly after an all-night session at 8 a.m. approved UN budget
resolution, including one backed by the Ambassadors of Syria,
Lebanon and Egypt
for a re-thinking and reigning in of the mandate of controversial
UN envoy Terje Roed Larsen.
Inner City Press for a response to that
critique by member states, Ban's Spokesperson's office also had no
heard of quiet diplomacy, but mere "courtesy
calls" and no-comments as war is heating up is something new.
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Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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