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At UN, d'Escoto Calls Quotes He Disagrees With a Crime, Israel Cancels Meeting

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 15 -- The UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann on Monday accused Israel's Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, and seemingly the Jerusalem Post, of slander to the extend of being a "criminal act." D'Escoto through his affable spokesman Enrique Yeves denied Ambassador Shalev's statement that he had tried to block Israel from speaking at a human rights event last week.

  The Jerusalem Post reported that Shalev said d'Escoto "initially decided to limit speeches by regional representatives after learning that Israel would represent Western Europe at the podium." Inner City Press had heard the theory last week, and asked Yeves about it. Yeves denied it, and Inner City Press did not report it.  Who knew, however, that quoting Israel's Ambassador could give rise to charges of slander and of crime?

  At Monday's noon briefing, Inner City Press repeatedly asked Yeves which statement exacted was characterized as criminal. We deny it, Yeves said. Video here. Yes, but that's different from calling it a crime.  Who was being accused remains unclear.

  D'Escoto was on more solid ground, most observers concluded, in criticizing Israel's blocking of UN envoy Richard Falk. This questions wasn't even asked, much less answeded, at the press conference of the Middle East Quartet.

PGA d'Escoto Brockmann, threats criminal and of death not shown

  Yeves also reported that d'Escoto was subject to death threats on the Internet. "Aren't we all," snarked one journalist. Earlier on Monday, d'Escoto leaned closed to U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, who spoke in loud Spanish into d'Escoto "good ear." Inner City Press asked Yeves for a read-out, but was told that the encounter was not heated, but rather included discussion of the meeting d'Escoto had requested with Gabriela Shalev of Israel's Mission.

  But this meeting, mentioned as the conclusion of d'Escoto's statement, was cancelled later on Monday.  As with Richard Falk, these questions weren't even asked, much less answered, at the press conference of the Middle East Quartet.

Footnote: A fire alarm rang out as the UN Security Council met, preparing for the Quartet meeting including Condoleezza Rice of the U.S., Sergey Lavrov of Russia, and the UK's David Milliband. Ambassadors were evacuated, while journalists ran the other way, toward the Council chamber. Reporters joked about the shoes thrown at George Bush over the weekend.  They mused that security scrutiny of the press might get more tight. At the time of the fire drill, however, no one thought they might be criminally charged for their articles.

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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