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After  Palestine Arria Meeting, ICP Asks of Area C & ICC, Out from Minders Eye

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 --  For the UN Security Council's Palestine "Arria formula" meeting on May 6, a media stakeout was set up in front of the ECOSOC Chamber. But to reach it, Inner City Press was required to have a minder, and the surveillance remained through the meeting, in today's UN's Kafka-esque anti-Press circus. Inner City Press nevertheless reported from there, below, and from the after six pm press conference that followed.

 There, Inner City Press asked the State of Palestine's Riyad Mansour about the International Criminal Court, and about "Area C" and what percentage of permit applications there are denied. Periscope video here.

 Mansour said Palestine still wants a referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court; he said he has many statistics on Area C to share.

  At the earlier stakeout, once other correspondents left, Inner City Press was specifically told it had to remain in a small area in front of ECOSOC. But even from there, Inner City Press first hear that the US has sent "only the political coordinator Chris" and that the UK "went the same route." [But see below.]

  Another diplomat, arriving past 4 pm, said they were coming from the US Mission that that "Samantha [Power] and Michele [Sison] are there." Another said, "What a huge diss."

  Leaving the Arria meeting at 4 were Egypt's Permanent Representative, Security Council President for May, along with Syria's Bashar Ja'afari, just bak from Geneva.

Inside the Arria formula meeting, delegates donned virtual reality glasses and heard legal arguments.

At 5 pm, UK Perm Rep Matthew Rycroft showed up outside the meeting. Another Perm Rep emphasized, the US sent only the Political Coordinator.

When Rycroft left, the restrictions on Inner City Press made it impossible to ask him anything.

It emerged that at the same time at the Palestine Arria formula meeting, the US Mission invited Perm Reps and their deputies to hear about ISIL from Brent McGurk.

Back on April 27 when the State of Palestine's Riyad Mansour called a press conference on April 27, it was to in-person announce another meeting, in the so-called Arria formula on the topic of protection, on May 6 at 3 pm.

  Inner City Press asked Mansour if it is true that France asked him and President Abbas not to try to proceed with their settlements draft resolution, pending the meeting France plans for May 30. “Ask the French,” Mansour said, insisting that Palestine intends to go forward. Inner City Press previously published the Operative Paragraphs, below.

    Mansour said the May 6 meeting will be open, but when Inner City Press asked it emerged that it will NOT be in the UN webcast viewable around the world. So what does open mean?

  (On April 26, an Arria meeting on Western Sahara was made available on “EZTV” to the UN's favored scribes with offices that UN accreditation chief Cristina Gallach has not, like Inner City Press', evicted, but not to other journalists. UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric at noon told Inner City Press that EZTV is available on the computer terminals in the UN's basement: that is false.)

Back on April 18 when Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon came to the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City press asked him for Israel's view of the UNSC draft resolution on settlements. Video here.

  Danon replied, We haven't seen a draft, but direct negotiations are the only way.

  To move the ball forward, Inner City Press is publishing the Operative Paragraphs of the draft settlements resolution:

"The Security Council....

1. Reaffirms that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

2. Reiterates its demand that Israel, the occupying power, immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it respect all of its obligations in this regard;

3. Calls for the prevention of all acts of terror, violence, harassment, destruction and provocation by Israeli settlers, especially against Palestinian civilians and their properties, and calls for accountability for the perpetration of such illegal actions;

4. Calls upon both parties to act upon the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, and to observe calm and restraint and refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;

5. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process, according to its agreed terms of reference and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;

6. Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay, an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East and underscores in this regard the importance of the Arab Peace initiative;

7. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;

8. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Back on January 25 when Danon came to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked if he would be using a prop -- a tripod or easel like on October 23 -- for his press encounter.  There will be a surprise, Inner City Press was told.

  As Danon gave his opening statement, correspondents at the stakeout asked to hold a prop, and some did. As Danon began to say how “hate toys” make Palestinian children hate Israelis, he referred to two dolls being held up at the stakeout as props, video here -- one, it turned out, by the UN correspondent of the Reuters wire service, Michelle Nichols. (See also here.)

  What are Reuters' policies in this regard? Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access have in the past asked Reuters executives, in writing, to state their policies -- without receiving the requested information, rather only a threat to sue revealed by Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request to US-government Voice of America, here. Will Reuters' policies on this be made known?

  On this theme of transparency, Inner City Press asked Danon if he and the Israeli government think that a letter UNESCO's Irina Bokova has reportedly sent to Iran should be made public. We'll have more on this.

Back on October 16, 2015 before the emergency Palestine meeting of the UN Security Council began on October 16, Danon came to address the press at the stakeout, with a tripod easel like his predecessor Ron Prosor.

   Inner City Press broadcast the easel via Periscope, and asked Danon about what's said in the Security Council about an expanded Quartet helping the situation. Danon replied that the solution is direct negotiations, with no preconditions.

  Before Inner City Press' question, another reporter posed his, complete with counter-prop, a photo on an i-Pad. (Inner City Press broadcast this too on Periscope.) The Israeli Mission, unlike some others, didn't try to insist that the question had to go to the journalist they'd chosen: the Free UN Coalition for Access favors this allowing of some openness in stakeout, unlike the censoring control asserted by, for example, UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous and some missions.

   Danon, it emerges, did not speak inside the Security Council; he has yet to hand his credentials to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (who is, once again, traveling, this time in Italy); he said he will do so on Wednesday of next week.

  Outside the Security Council at the stakeout Danon said, “Whoever avoids direct negotiations is looking for an escape hatch, and Abbas’s favorite kind of escape, is to spread slanderous lies about the situation on the Temple Mount, especially about the status quo. However, only 2 weeks ago Prime Minister Netanyahu stood here at the UN and repeated his commitment once again to maintaining the status quo. Let me make it clear. Israel will not agree to any international  presence on the Temple Mount. Any such intervention would violate the decades long status quo.”

   After the speeches in the Council Chamber, Inner City Press asked Palestine's Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour about an international protection presence. He replied that back in 1994 in UNSC Resolution 904, some 37 Scandinavian observers were deployed and remain in Hebron, so why not now? Why not indeed.

  Jordan's Dina Kawar seemed to say that such an international force is not envisioned at this point. Oman's representative, as head of the Arab Group, said work would continue. One wanted to ask her also about Oman's work on the conflict in Yemen, but it was not the time.

  Using the easel that he brought, Danon said, “On Monday, a  Palestinian boy attacked an Israeli boy who was riding his bike, stabbing him no less than 15 times. Let me repeat: 15 times! The victim is still hospitalized in critical condition. Ask yourselves, why would a 13-year-old boy decide to go on a stabbing spree and try to take another boy’s life? The answer is that such acts of terror do not occur in a vacuum. When a Palestinian child turns on a TV, he doesn’t see Barney or Donald Duck, he sees murderers portrayed as heroes. When he opens a textbook, he doesn’t learn about math and science, he’s being taught to hate.”

  Then Danon unveiled a picture or cartoon, knives at a body, widely photographed.

 “This picture you see here is an example of the kind of messages that Palestinian children are being exposed to day in and day out. The picture gives children elaborate instructions on how to stab a Jew. We talk about a lot about incitement- here you see what Palestinian incitement looks like. This picture is what is being taught in middle schools! Instead of educating about peace and tolerance, the Palestinian leadership is brainwashing children with incitement and hate,” Danon continued.

  The UN itself denounced social media, and got asked about its own, or UNRWA staff's, use of social media; UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN reviews even its staff's retweets. Really? We'll have more on this.


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