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As Libyan Ship Blocked by Israel, Echoes of France and Myanmar, Free Gaza and Somali Toxic Waste

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- As Libya convened a Security Council meeting about the Israeli Navy's blocking of its ship of humanitarian goods from docks in Gaza, several analogies were raised to Ambassador Alejandro Wolff of the United States, Israel's main backer.  Inner City Press asked Amb. Wolff, did he think the aid flotilla that arrived from Cyprus in Gaza, including Tony Blair's sister-in-law, was equally an act of "lunacy" as Libya? 

  No, he said, that trip had been authorized in advance. But as another correspondent remonstrated by shaking his head, that's not true. With no prior approval, Israel nevertheless allowed that flotilla to land, and only blocked their exit.

  Inner City Press asked Amb. Wolff to contrast the Libya off the coast of Gaza with the French Navy's stationing off of Myanmar earlier this year, with Bernard Kouchner threatening humanitarian intervention.  Wolff said that Libya's relationship with Israel is different from France's with Myanmar's. Video here. But is it?

   After Amb. Wolff referred to international law, Inner City Press asked him about comments by the head of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayb, that Israel is violating the privileges and immunities of UN staff by disallowing their use of diplomatic pouches, and preventing the import into Gaza not only of money, but even of paper. Ambassador Wolff responded that the U.S. is of course concerned about the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. But what about the legal rights of UN staff members? That question stayed unanswered.

Libya's Gaddafi and UN's Ban, Libyan ship blocked from Gaza not shown

Footnote: Also on the issue of ships, at the UN's noon briefing two Western UN humanitarian staffers speaking about Somalia were dismissive of Somalis' claims that toxic waste is being dumped upon their coast line.  The Food and Agriculture Organization's representative said that he'd been a part of a test for toxic waste in the Puntland region in 2005 which found no such waste. Video here, near end.

   Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Dumisani Kumalo, the Ambassador of Security Council member South Africa, about the issue. "Why did they only test in Puntland?" Amb. Kumalo asked. "And why were they having to test in the first place?" He might have added: why is the UN, which complains so loudly about the effects of piracy on the delivery of food, implicitly attacking the local view that Western powers overfish and dump in Somali waters?

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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