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Palestine's Mansour Visits Rose Garden Flagpole, Tashlich Ceremony Proceeds

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21, updated -- The Observer State of Palestine's Riyad Mansour came to visit the flagpole in the UN Rose Garden up which his flag will rise on September 30, and asked Inner City Press, What's that?

  On the lawn beside the Rose Garden was a Tashlich ceremony organized by the Israeli mission to the UN, beginning with remarks by outgoing Israeli Permanent Representative Ron Prosor.

  Contrary to what some in the crowd on the UN lawn quickly concluded, Mansour was not joining the ceremony. He wondered if those who come to the flag raising on September 30 will stand so far back on the walkway.

 Inner City Press tweeted photos, then Periscoped some of the Tashlich ceremony, attended by (among others) the Permanent Representatives of Ukraine, Argentina, Germany, Norway, Brazil, Palau and UN officials Kim Won-soo, Atule Khare and the UN's top lawyer. Helicopters whirled overhead, and a Coast Guard ship out on the river. The UN General Assembly week came near.

Update: later in the Tashlich ceremony, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived. It was not on his public schedule.

 The UN draft resolution to fly the State of Palestine's flag in front of the UN passed on September 10, 119 in favor, 45 abstaining and eight against: the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, Tuvalu, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Inner City Press put the UN voting sheet online here.

  There were also countries which didn't vote at all, like Uganda, Haiti, Georgia, Malawi, South Sudan and, strangely, Yemen. Iraq's Permanent Representative said all Arab Group members supported the draft; Yemen's representative was in the building, Inner City Press saw and greeted him. What happened?

Update: Inner City Press went to the UN General Assembly stakeout after the meeting (Periscope video here, including Palestine's Permanent Observer Mansour speaking) and asked Iraq's Ambassador about Yemen not voting; it was explained as a problem of Yemen being behind on its dues to the UN.

  The resolution states that it is “taking note of the participation of non-member Observer States, which maintain permanent observer missions at United Nations Headquarters, in the sessions and work of the General Assembly, recalling that the State of Palestine became a non-member Observer State at the United Nations on 29 November 2012, and recalling also in this regard its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012 and previous relevant resolutions.”

   The adopted resolution “decides that the flags of non-member Observer States at the United Nations maintaining permanent observer missions at Headquarters shall be raised at the United Nations Headquarters and Offices following the flags of the Member States of the United Nations and requests the Secretary-General to undertake the necessary measures for the implementation of this resolution during the seventieth session of the General Assembly and within 20 days of the adoption of this resolution.”

 After the vote, for example, Sweden explained why it voted Yes; Netherlands said why it abstained. The two, and Italy, will vie for two WEOG seats on the UN Security Council.

On August 28, the Holy See / Vatican has issued this:

“In accordance with the rules governing the General Assembly no Member or Observer State is entitled to oppose the tabling of a draft resolution by a Member State. In light of this, the Holy See does not object to the tabling of a draft resolution concerning the raising of the flags of Observer States at the UN Headquarters and offices.

“The Holy See, however, notes the long established praxis and tradition of the UN, sing 1945, whereby only flags of member States are displayed at the UN Headquarters and offices and will accept whatever  decision the UN may wish to take in this regard in the future.”

  Got it?

  Staking out the August 27 Arab Group meeting, Inner City Press was told by two major Arab states that the flag will "definitely" go up, and was reliably informed that the flag for Palestine would go after those of ("full") member states, that is near 42nd Street in front of the UN Library building.

  Inner City Press asked an involved delegation if the UN was ready with the flag pole and was told yes, a letter has been sent to that effect.

  Much earlier, anti-flag delegations were pitching the story, which was eventually picked up.

 On both August 27 and again on August 28, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's office of the spokesperson:

"Yesterday, Inner City Press was told in but not by the UN that if the draft resolution on raising the State of Palestine's flag at the UN passes, (1) it would go at the end of Member States, that is, nearest 42nd street and (2) that 'the UN' has written a letter concerning its readiness to install the needed flagpole.

 "I understand you will not comment on what may happen in the GA but I am requesting UN Secretariat (Protocol, OLA and/or DM/FMS) confirmation of where a non-member State's flag WOULD go, and on readiness to install the flagpole including that a letter to that effect has been written and sent."

 The UN has refused to answer that question, for more than 24 hours.

 On August 27, a meeting on the Diplomacy of Pope Francis, scheduled at 4 pm in Conference Room 3, was listed as "Closed." (There was another 4 pm event upstairs at the UN.)

Back on June 18 after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decided not to list Israel or Hamas in the annex of his Children and Armed Conflict report -- nor the French troops alleged to have raped children in the Central African Republic -- Ban came to the UN Security Council media stakeout, accompanied by CAAC expert Leila Zerrougui. But he answered no questions.

  On June 24, the UN's Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman addressed the Security Council, saying:

“The Secretary General took note of the release on Monday of the Human Rights Council's independent Commission of Inquiry's report on Gaza. While we do not comment on the substance of such reports, it is our hope that it will contribute to bringing justice to victims of last year's war and encourage the parties to engage in serious and credible examinations of their own behavior."

  But is that credible? Down in UN Conference Room 3, US, joined only by Canada, voted with Israel against a UN Budget resolution on Lebanon and the attack on Qana; upstairs, the US' representative left the Council with Feltman and got on the same elevator with him. Periscope video here available for 24 hours, after 470 live views. Geneva may well tilt one way, but the Secretariat tilts the other. Watch this site.

  Back on June 18 after Ban read a statement about climate change and then the "controversy" about his report, he said he had to leave. There were some grumbles; Inner City Press asked, about the Central African Republic rapes and cover up, what about the Panel? Ban did not answer. Periscope video for now here.

  Zerrougui stayed, gamely; she declined to answer about the non-inclusion of Israel. Inner City Press asked her about the CAR rapes and cover up. She said while she didn't find out all in time, once she did, she spoke with the government concerned.

  Inner City Press reported exclusively that Zerrougui met French Ambassador Francois Delattre -- his Mission declined to confirm or deny, when asked in writing by Inner City Press - but what has come of it?

  And what of the CAR rapes by the French troops? They are mentioned in the text of the report, but not in the Annex. Ban said a Panel would be set up- but hasn't yet done it.

 Inner City Press is exclusively informed that concerned member states will meet not with Ban but his Deputy Jan Eliasson on June 19. Some are concerned Ban might even try to put Eliasson on the "independent" panel, despite controversy about an August 8, 2014 email saying Eliasson would be briefed that afternoon about the CAR rapes. (The UN now says Eliasson didn't learn of them until April 2015.)  We'll see.


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