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Angry at Press on Its Position on Palestine, France "Witch Hunt" Defused by Portugal

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- In the middle of the Security Council's closed door meeting on Palestine on November, Inner City Press learned and published that France had just announced inside the meeting that it would abstain on Palestinian UN membership. Click here for that unchanged story.

   Minutes after the story was uploaded at 4:16 pm, inside the Security Council's "private" meeting French Ambassador Gerard Araud complained about it, multiple sources tell Inner City Press. Complaints were also made, not for the first time, by US Ambassador Susan Rice.

  Araud pointed the finger at perceived "supporters of Palestine" on the Council.  (While even those not supporting Palestinian UN membership all say they support Palestine, Araud was focused sources say on at most eight, and seemingly fewer, countries.)

   November's Council president Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral of Portugal defused the situation by saying to count him, and Portugal, among Palestine's supporters.

   After a change of government and foreign minister, Portugal is less supportive of Palestine than before, for example abstaining on Palestinian membership in UNESCO.

  Cabral is a proponent of UNSC Working Methods reform and greater openness, for example holding press stakeouts on both November 3 and November 4. France's Araud, by contrast, did only three stakeouts in the entirety of the last month he was Council president, May 2012. Click here for that story, and here for more on French Mission anti-Press moves.

(c) UN Photo
Araud & former spokesman point the finger, new communications strategy not shown

  Some say that if Security Council members, particularly the Permanent members including Western members which often speak about press freedom and transparency, were in fact more open, "real time" reporting, for one Permanent Representative congratulated Inner City Press on Friday, would not be viewed as disruptive.

   The following morning on November 4, Araud stopped on the stairs outside the Council and said, with his new spokesman tape recording, that if Palestine wants a vote in the Council on its application for membership it will need to get a Council member to ask for a vote.  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

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