As Gaza Air Strikes Continue, UN's Ban Finally Speaks
to Quartet, Blair Speaks of Fatah If At All
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 28 -- Five days after his
"purely courtesy call" meeting with Israel's Ambassador and two days
after Israel's air strikes on Gaza began, UN Secretary General Ban
Sunday issued a measured statement through his spokesperson Michele
dutifully reported near verbatim by AFP
and Reuters. The latter reported
Ban "spoke with members of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators
the European Union, United States, Russia and United Nations."
How does UN
Secretary General Ban "speak with
the UN"? One might assume it was with the Quartet envoy Tony Blair,
who last month refused to brief the UN Security Council, and has
refused to answer questions at the UN about its competing employment
JPMorgan Chase, among others. But Blair has had little to say about the
of Gaza, which during his Quartet mandate he has not visit, as even as
Saturday focused on the political: "we need to
devise a new strategy for Gaza, which brings that territory back under
legitimate rule of the Palestinian Authority in a manner which ends
suffering and fully protects the security of Israel."
UN's Ban and Blair, courtesy calling not shown
of the Scottish Parliament has asked,
"Will Tony Blair - Middle East
envoy? - intervene and visit Gaza to see for himself the suffering, the
hospitals without equipment, and children without food and shelter?" Robert
Fisk has written, "Not a whimper from Tony Blair, the peace envoy
Middle East who's never been to Gaza in his current incarnation. Not a
word." Hear, hear.
Footnotes: on 42nd
Street by the UN on Sunday,
protesters some in headscarves walked with signs such as, "End the
Blockade." Inner City Press' unscientific survey of Arabic grocery
workers in the South Bronx found near unanimous support for Hamas over
for Hezbollah and disgust at Egypt and others perceived as
reported, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on December 23 met
with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson
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
"We'll 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
diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo
opportunity with the Secretary-General. We'll see.
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
Reporter's mobile (and
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]