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As UN and Ban Are Booed, Buck is Passed But Not to Gaza, Phosphorus Facts Promised

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 -- While Ban Ki-moon was in Lebanon and Ramallah on the West Bank over the weekend, he was booed by large crowds for his delayed and allegedly pro-Israel actions during the offensive against Gaza. In Ramallah they chanted, in an Arabic rhyme, "Ban Ki-moon, in his brain he has no say." In Lebanon, posters were held up of Ban covering his ears and eyes: hear no evil, see no evil.

  In New York on Monday, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas to comment on the protests, was Ban aware of them and what was his response. "Most of the demonstrations were not directed at him," Ban's Spokesperson argued, "but also at the UN in general, concerning the Security Council and the General Assembly." Video here, from Minute 14:21.

  But Inner City Press' sources say the chants were about Ban Ki-moon. As to the General Assembly, they only became part of the UN action on Gaza due to the personal interest taken by GA President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann. While he was criticized, including Monday to Inner City Press by Permanent Representatives of both European and Arabic countries, it seems unlikely that the protests over the weekend had the GA in mind.

  In fact, these same sources are dismissive of the still-unconfirmed plan by Ban, leaked by Israel, to visit Gaza now that bombing has ceased. "He should have gone earlier and appealed for a stop to the bombing," one of the UN sources said. "He should have gone to the Rafah crossing and said, 'let all this medicine in.'"

  Inner City Press asked UNRWA's John Ging to respond to the Red Cross' Jakob Kellenberger's statement that he saw no evidence that Israel used white phosphorous weapons, and that the medical system in Gaza suffered from no shortage of equipment or medicine. Ging said, on white phosphorus, "we have evidence to substantiate" its use.

Protesters in Lebanon with photo of UN's Ban, Jan 17, 2009, General Assembly not shown

  Inner City Press asked about the continuing blockage of cash into Gaza, and the UN's statement that "without a functioning bank system in Gaza, recovery efforts will be vastly undermined." Ging said that to bring solutions, "we are all engaged with the banking sector here." Video here, from Minute 41:21. We will have more on this.

Footnote: Ban's Spokesperson was asked, as a so-called "housekeeping" question, why have a briefing on these topics on January 20, when Barack Obama is being inaugurated. There will be no briefing tomorrow, Ban's spokesperson quickly agreed. Later, that at least John Ging will appear for questions was arranged, first for 11:30 and then, when it was argued that might conflict with the Obama event, back to 11 or 10:30 a.m..  Talk about deference.

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

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.

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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

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