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At UN, Pro-Israel NGO Is Out of Place, "Did We Capture Them?"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 5 -- Moments after the UN General Assembly voted 114 to 18 with 44 abstaining to endorse the Goldstone report on war crimes in Gaza, three speakers took to the UN Television microphone and spoke to the Press. First was Assembly President Ali Treki of Libya, who took only one question.

   Next was the Permanent Observer of Palestine Riyad Mansour, who took questions in both Arabic and English. Inner City Press asked what Mansour expects of the Security Council, whose Permanent Five members fought against the referral of the Goldstone report. Video here, from Minute 5:47.

   Finally a short woman took to the microphone, criticizing the resolution for not mentioning Hamas. Journalists took notes, one later telling Inner City Press he thought she was from the U.S. Mission. In fact, she was Anne Bayefsky of the Touro College Institute for Human Rights -- that is, a non governmental organization or NGO.

  A representative of the UN's Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit monitoring the stakeout grimaced, but did not move to stop Ms. Bayefsky's speech. (As Inner City Press reported, once when a representative of Western Sahara's Polisario Front was speaking at the Security Council stakeout, the plug was plugged on the camera and microphone, later claimed to be an electrical system snafu.)

  Two and then four UN Security officers arrived. After Ms. Bayefsky finished, they surrounded her and a young man she had brought into the UN with her. She was asked, How did you get him in? What type of UN pass do you have? The two were marched down to the UN Security office on the first floor.

  Just then, Palestine's Observer Riyad Mansour walked back the General Assembly. Inner City Press mentioned that a seeming pro-Israel NGO had spoke at the stakeout after him. Mansour stopped and asked, "Did we capture them?"

Palestine's Riyad Mansour at a stakeout, "did we capture them?"

  Inner City Press went down to the Security office. Minutes later, Ms. Bayefsky and her colleague were marched out by two blue shirted guards. Ms. Bayefsky called Inner City Press over. "This is your story," she said. As Inner City Press took notes, one of the guards asked that the interview wait until Ms. Bayefsky was escorted out onto First Avenue. Missing, one wag mused, was the K-9 unit.

  Once there, in the dusk, Ms. Bayefsky argued that other NGOs are allowed to speak at that stakeout, for example Human Rights Watch after the election of members to the UN Human Rights Council. Later Inner City Press verified this: May 17, 2007, video here. (By contrast, on November 5, 2009, the Bayefsky stakeout footage was not put on the UN's website, after Mansour's, here.)

  Ms. Bayefsky stated that a white shirted UN Security officer with a large belly said that this was only happened because the Permanent Observer of Palestine was mad. (This bought to mind the Heisenberg Principle, that even by observing or reporting on something, inevitably it is changed.)

At stakeout Nov. 5, through a glass darkly

  Some on the other hand view it as a crackdown after the UN and UN Security were embarrassed by KFC's Colonel Sanders impersonator being invited to take photos with GA President Ali Treki, apparently by Treki's daughter who works in the Office of the President. But was Colonel Sanders escorted to the Security Office and then out to First Avenue? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Talk of "Welcoming" Gaza Goldstone Report, U.S. Will Not Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 4, updated Nov. 5-- With the debate in the UN General Assembly on the Goldstone report taking a lunch break, negotiations continued on a European-led proposal to not "endorse" the report, but only "take note" of it. A well placed Arab diplomat told Inner City Press that a compromise was possible: to "welcome" the report.

  But what about referral to the Security Council? The Arab diplomat said that many European Union nations have no problem with this, that the most opposed are the UK and especially France.

  Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, asked the Press if the U.S. will join the 43 speakers set to address the General Assembly about Goldstone, said no, "we will not speak on that stage."

Goldstone and PGA Treki, "welcoming" not shown

  At the day's noon press briefing, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for GA President Ali Treki if Sudan and Syria are sponsors. No, he said, or not yet. You have to go based on what is printed. Video here, from Minute 26:56.

  Inner City Press asked, what about the so-called French and UK draft. He said there is only one resolution on the table, that introduced by Egypt. A senior European diplomat told Inner City Press that the negotiations are being led by Sweden, and that the longer the debate goes, the longer they have to negotiate. Watch this space.

Update of 3:10 p.m. -- Ali Treki has canceled his 4 p.m. press conference, re-scheduling it for sometime on Thursday. As diplomats streamed back into the General Assembly, the representative of the League of Arab States stopped to speak to the Press. Asked about Obama, he said "he is a good man, he means well, but actions speak louder than words." If the settlements don't stop, there can be no negotiations, he said. "So are we back to where we were when Obama took office?" Yes, he said, basically we are back to square one.

Update of 3:19 p.m. -- Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer of the Palestinian Authority, speechified to the Press about the days debate. He predict that the Assembly will "endorse" the report, and that if the doors of the Security Council remain closed, that all who've signed on to the Fourth Geneva Convention will have to "bring to justice" all possible defendants. Asked about the U.S. position, he said, "you have to ask Susan Rice." A reporter answered, "But she won't answer." Mansour shrugged and went into the Assembly.

Update of 3:35 p.m. -- on his way into the General Assembly, Sudan's Ambassador said with a smile that the day's events show the "double standards and selectivity" of the UN system. The Security Council took up the International Criminal Court in the case of Sudan, but won't on Israel. He pointed out that some countries close to Palestine are uncomfortable with the draft resolution, either because they don't want human rights issues in the Security Council, or don't want to mention the ICC, or both. The Press asked, Isn't that Sudan's position? We just want to expose the double standards, was the answer.

Update of 5:24 p.m. -- and the beat goes on. Nicaragua's representative begins by thanking "Libya" for arranging this General Assembly debate. So does Ali Treki work for Libya? Is his work attributable to them? Djibouti takes the floor. They have their own problems with Eritrea, and diplomatically, Inner City Press is told, with Uganda.

Update of 6:02 p.m. -- and precisely at six p.m., the interpreters' deadline, the session was closed, to re-open Thursday morning. Watch this site.

Updates of Nov. 5, from 4:37 p.m. -- the vote has been called, on the draft resolution without any amendments. In an explanation before the vote, Alejandro Wolff of the U.S. denounces the Goldstone report and Hamas, and the resolution for not naming it.

Update of 4:45 p.m. -- the vote has been taken: 118 for, 18 against, 44 abstaining. Norway explains abstaining: Egypt refused to taken any of its amendments, only wanted to "politicize" the Middle East.

Update of 4:59 p.m. -- Heraldo Munoz of Chile's talking, he who is in charge of the investigation of the murder of Benazir Bhutto, still pleading to interview Pervez Musharraf in London.

Update of 5:19 p.m. -- India voted for the resolution, but did not endorce the International Criminal Court, it points out.

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Goldstone Report on Gaza Debated in UN Assembly, the Politics of War Crimes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 4 -- The Goldstone report on war crimes during this year's Gaza conflict will be debated Wednesday in the UN General Assembly chamber. What at the UN is called a debate is really just a series of speeches. Before the first one began, an Arab representative predicted more than 100 speakers, including the entire membership of the Non Aligned Movement. The spokesman for Ali Treki, president of the General Assembly, put the number of speakers at 43.

  Behind this Kibuki theater there is a resolution subject to vote most probably on Thursday or Friday, which currently would call on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the General Assembly, within three months, on implementation of the resolution "with a view to considering further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies, including by the Security Council."

  While the U.S., particularly after its House of Representatives' vote this week against the Goldstone report, is the main opponent of considering the report in the Security Council, neither Russia or China is keen to have the killing of civilians taken up in the Council. Consider Ingushetya, Xinjiang and U.S. drone bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The UK and France too have their own military actions to consider, in Afghanistan and Africa. Hence the theater, the empty hat tips to human rights.

  Click here for an Inner City Press debate on the Goldstone Report taped on October 30. And see live blog below.

In Gaza, UNRWA's warehouse, through a glass darkly

  Can Hamas be expected to investigate itself? Israel says no. The Goldstone report, unlike the UN Human Rights Council resolution which endorsed it, does take Hamas to task. The current GA draft, to garner EU votes, also makes the reference. An uncomfortable vote is coming up. But first the debate, which we will be live blogging in the space below.

Update of 10:04 a.m. -- outside the General Assembly, Sudan's Ambassador was in discussion with his Egyptian counterpart and others. It's a procedural question, it was explained, to be resolved in a few minutes.

Update of 10:14 a.m. -- Ali Treki's spokesman Jean-Victor Nkolo tells a half dozen reporters there are only 43 speakers inscribed at this time, and that only one draft resolution has been submitted. What about that of France and the UK?

Update of 10:18 a.m. -- the debate, scheduled for 10, still has not begun. One journalist quips, do you notice how ever since Treki took over, nothing starts on time? But there are moves to get more co-sponsors. Sudan is still not listed -- although word is that they have joined. Nor are Algeria and Syria listed as sponsors. Egypt is the first of 43 speakers, at least according to the list...

Update of 10:41 a.m. -- Egypt's Ambassador is introducing the resolution, he refers to the "United Nations Commissioner," presumably meaning the Human Rights Council. There is the reference to Switzerland and the Geneva Conventions.

Update of 1:05 p.m. -- at the day's noon press briefing, Inner City Press asked Treki's spokesman Nkolo about what's called the French and UK draft. There is only one draft, Nkolo said, suggesting that Inner City Press "ask the French."

Update of 1:59 p.m. -- as the Assembly took a lunch break, the Press asked questions in the lobby. U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Wolff said the U.S. will not be speaking, "we do not plan to speak on that stage."

  A senior European diplomat said that Sweden, not France, is leading the negotiations, and agreed that the longer the debate goes, the more time there is to negotiate.

   A well placed Arab diplomat told Inner City Press that a main rub with the EU is that they want to only "take note of" the Goldstone report, rather than "endorse." He predicted a compromise: to "welcome" the Goldstone report. Only at the UN....

* * *

IMF's Report Buries Its Icesave Conditionality, Enforcer's Duplicity?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 3 -- While the IMF has acknowledged that its second round of disbursements to crisis-hit Iceland was delayed for months by the country's failure to placate those in the Netherlands and UK who did business with IceSave, the IMF's just released report on Iceland buries the issue on page 30 of the 98 page report. The IMF states that

"[t]he terms and conditions of Nordic loans, amounting to $2.5 billion, have been finalized. Their disbursement has been linked to resolution of the Icesave dispute with the U.K. and Netherlands over deposit insurance liabilities. After protracted discussions, the three governments have reached an agreement on this"

  Once that agreement was reached, on October 18, the IMF then went forward with a letter of intent and memorandum of understanding for the second tranche of financing. But, as with the IMF's moves in Latvia for Swedish banks, some see the Fund operating as an enforcement or collections agent for creditors who even less would like to show their hand.

Iceland / Icesave protest, but is the heartfelt sign true?

  Since the IMF does not like to admit or reveal its degree of control over the countries it lends to, the de facto conditions for loans, such as paying off on IceSave, are often not explicit in what purport to be full agreements containing all express and implied terms.

  In fact, the IMF has claimed that it "no longer" engages in conditionality. But the Iceland report has an entire chart about conditionalities. It's just that the most important one was left unsaid. Is this diplomacy or duplicity?

  The IMF's Iceland report continues, about other loan requests including from Russia:

"A loan from the Faroe Islands ($50 million) has already disbursed, and a loan from Poland has been agreed ($200 million), and will disburse alongside the next 3 program reviews. A $500 million loan originally committed by Russia is no longer expected, but the $250 million in over-financing in the original program, an expected macro-stabilization loan from the EU ($150 million), and use of an existing repo facility with the BIS ($700 million, of which $214 million is outstanding) will more than offset this."

   Offset may be the right word. Last year, in the midst of Iceland's abortive run for a seat on the UN Security Council, the country announced it had to seek a $4 billion loan from Russia. It was after that that the IMF loan commitment was made -- an "offset," some saw it -- and after talks in Istanbul, on October 15 the already whittled down loan request to Russia was formally rejected.

  Then the deal with the UK and Netherlands, and the IMF's releasing. While the IMF calls these types of moves only technical, others call them power politics. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

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

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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