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On Gaza, UN Council President Meets Arab League, 10 pm Consultations to Follow

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 27, 7:15 pm, then updated -- With over 225 dead from air strikes in Gaza, the doors of the UN Security Council remained closed with a bicycle D-lock at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Inner City Press e-mailed the office of this month's Council President, Croatia, to ask if the "Presidency of the Security Council has received any request for a Council meeting about, or any other communication concerning, the situation in Gaza in the past two days." The Croatian mission's spokesman replied:

Subj: Re: Press question(s) on Gaza, thanks
From: Croatian Mission Spokesman
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/27/2008 6:54:37 P.M. Eastern Standard Time 

Matthew, The Presidency will be meeting with the representative of the Arab League this evening at 7.30 p.m. We have been advised that an emergency meeting may be called for, but the timing of this meeting is yet to be ascertained [it will be either this evening or tomorrow]. I will inform you on developments as soon as I know.

   It was already public that the Arab League had been asked to demand an emergency meeting. For comparison's sake, Russia got a 1 a.m. Council meeting the first night of the South Ossetia war with Georgia.

Update of 7:30 pm - following Croatia's Neven Jurica, the Ambassadors of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, along with the Permanent Observer of Palestine Riyad Mansour and the Arab League's representative, walked into the now-unlocked Council. A diplomat told Inner City Press: consultations at 10 pm, with Libya requesting an open meeting thereafter.

Update of 8:08 pm - the 10 pm consultations are confirmed by the UN, but there's no UN TV on the scene when four Ambassadors speak, entirely in Arabic, at the stakeout. A member of the Croatian mission notes that upstairs on the 34th floor, "there is no one." The countdown begins.

Update of 8:21 pm - the Egyptian Ambassador has put on his overcoat to leave. Still no sign of the U.S., France, UK, Russia or China -- nor of the UN Secretariat. A representative from Djibouti, though, it here. When Inner City Press asks what the French and U.S. bases in Djibouti do, he laughs. "You should ask them," he suggests, "how their bases help Djibouti."

Update of 9:08 pm - UN TV, at least the hard working sound man, has shown up, and pitchers of ice water have gone into the chamber. Iran has circulated a letter, as has Israel, through a staffer in the Office of the Spokesperson. The former doesn't refer to "Zionist;" the latter speaks of self-defense. A UN conference officer who appeared in the film Fort Apache, The Bronx has gone into the chamber. The stakeout microphone is being set up. The UN's "Marie Okaba," through Deutsche Presse-Agentur, says that Ban Ki-moon is coming to the 10 p.m. meeting...

Update of 9:43 pm -- The U.S. spokesman has arrived, the Chinese political officer, and now the Council's president Jurica has returned. It is known in advance that there will be no output from the meeting. But let it begin!

Croatia's Ambassador at the mic, ICC prosecutor looks everywhere but Gaza

  As previously reported, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on December 23 met with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe, at that day's noon briefing, what the meeting had been about.  That the expiration of the cease fire in Gaza would have been discussed seemed obvious. The question was intended to glean whether any statement as to timing had been made by the Israeli Ambassador. "We'll get you a readout," Ms. Okabe said. Video here.

   Later on December 23, Ban's Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press the following:

From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/23/2008 3:31:10 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Your question at noon

Regarding the Secretary-General's meeting with the Israeli Permanent Representative today, it was purely a courtesy call.

   "Purely a courtesy call"? That is the phrase used when diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo opportunity with the Secretary-General. We'll see.

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

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.

* * *

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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