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At UN, Israel's Danon Denounces Terrorism, Sweden For Status Quo on Haram al-Sharif

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 - When Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon pointed at an easel outside the UN Security Council on July 24, inside the Council was holding previously scheduled meetings on Liberia, Somalia and Eritrea. After that, there would be an emergency meeting on events in Jerusalem. Inner City Press had wanted to ask about the UN's Michael Lynk, but maybe next time. Danon said, "The Salomon family had gathered for the most joyous occasion, the birth of a new grandson.  Instead, the night ended in a massacre.  They sat down to eat the Sabbath meal when the terrorist entered their home. He stabbed his victims to death, murdering Yosef, the seventy-year-old grandfather, his daughter Haya, and his son Elad, all while the children were hidden in a room... This attack is not an isolated incident.  It is part of a wave of terror sweeping the free world by those brainwashed by hateful teachings.  They are taught that violence and coldblooded murder is holy.  The Security Council must demand that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA act immediately to end the terror and incitement before the lives of more innocent victims are lost." UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has added to his schedule at 5:30 pm Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. For now, these Alamy photographs. And this, from Sweden's mission: "Sweden took the initiative and requested today’s meeting together with France and Egypt because we are deeply concerned by the volatile situation with heightened tensions and violent clashes in and around occupied East Jerusalem, particularly Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, since the attack on 14 July. The deterioration since last Friday, resulting in several casualties both in Jerusalem and the West Bank, is troubling and there is a risk of further escalation. Today’s meeting will be an opportunity for the Security Council to receive an update on the situation from the UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov, and to discuss how to best support the Secretary-General’s call for de-escalation. 'We hope that members of the Council will send a clear message to the parties to de-escalate, to exercise restraint, to refrain from provocations, and to work together to lower tensions and discourage violence,' Carl Skau, Swedish ambassador to the Security Council, said. The holy sites in Jerusalem are surrounded with particular sensitivities. Jerusalem is home to the three monotheistic religions and has a special status granted by the UN in 1947. Noting the importance of the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as recognised in its peace treaty with Israel, Carl Skau, Swedish ambassador to the Security Council, said: 'The historic status quo of Haram al-Sharif must be maintained –  in word and in practice. The sanctity of this holy site must be respected.'" Watch this site. Back on March 22 when Palestine's Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour came to the UN Security Council stakeout after a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, he said it was a good meeting but that it remains unclear if Guterres' report on Israeli settlements on March 24 will be in writing or merely oral. On the choreographed withdrawal of the ESCWA report on the topic, a question was not answered, but Mansour said he was going to meet the Security Council president but the press could wait for a read-out in an hour. Periscope video here. Some media were blocked from following Mansour down the second floor hallway and complained; for more than a year, following trying to cover the UN Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal in the UN Press Briefing Room, Inner City Press has been banned from that second floor hall, following or not.

  Guterres, whose spokesman Stephane Dujarric played up his laying down the law to UN regional commission director Rima Khalaj, will on March 22 hold another meeting at 5 pm with the bureau of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. If the recent past is any guide, Guterres will not issue any read-out. When Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on March 21 to confirm the meetings, he refused. So much for transparency. The UN's longtime Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press at noon on March 17 that it would no longer find online the report "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid:  Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue no.1 | ESCWA (2017)." This remained false, even as of 9 pm that day. While the Internet link sent out by the UN's Department of Public Information on March 16 for the report  no longer led there, nine hours after Dujarric's briefing, Inner City Press still found the report on ESCWA's website. In the briefing, Inner City Press asked Dujarric to confirm that before the controversy about the report, Khalaf like all other Regional Economic Commissioner heads except Alicia Barcena was set to leave by March 31. UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: Earlier, there had been a job notice published for all of the heads of the regional commissions, except Ms. [Alicia] Bárcena in Latin America.  So, I wanted to know, what's the status of that?  Has… has… what would have been Rima Khalaf's final day…?

Spokesman:  31 March.

Inner City Press:Okay.  Number two, I notice it's no longer on the website.  Does this mean that, in fact, the applications are closed?  What's the process?  Do you think you'll have a new head of ESCWA before 31 March?

Spokesman:  I don't know if we'll have one before 31 March.  There's a Deputy Executive Director who is currently in charge.

Inner City Press: Are the issues being discussed here, do you think they'll be a part of the selection process or just process?

Spokesman:  Do I what?

Inner City Press: Do you think the issues that the… the substance of the report, the issues reflected in the substance of the report, are they going to be part of the selection process or just a pledge of allegiance to…?

Spokesman:  It's not about a pledge of allegiance.  It's about people working in an organization.  It's about people following a process of coordination and consultation.  That's what it is.  It is not, don't… you know, frame… I mean…  It's not about a pledge of allegiance.  The job interview will be a competency-based interview, and we will get a great candidate.

Inner City Press:  So two things.  On this report, was it shown to DPA [Department of Political Affairs]?

Spokesman:  No, it was not.  It was not… no one at Headquarters was consulted or coordinated.

Inner City Press:  And does Headquarters have a veto right over reports of the regional commissions?  If it had been shown, what would happen…?

Spokesman:  It's not about veto.  It's about coordination and consultation. 

   Then this: "Ambassador Nikki Haley on the Resignation of UN Under-Secretary-General Rima Khalaf: 'When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the UN, it is appropriate that the person resign. UN agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the Secretary-General’s decision to distance his good office from it.'” We'll have more on this.

  When the UN Security Council debated "Trafficking in persons in conflict situations, forced labor, slavery and other similar practices" on March 15, US Ambassador Nikki Haley cited people forced to make bricks in Peru, to fix fishing nets in Ghana, on fishing boats off Thailand and as domestic workers in the Persian Gulf. Inner City Press previously asked the UN about the flow of such workers, underage, from Burundi - still without answer. This should change. Haley also cited a proposal by US Senator Bob Corker, including to raise private funds to combat trafficking. Corker has called for reforms at the UN, few of which are yet to be implemented. This too should change.

  On US inauguration day on January 20 at the US Mission to the UN the photos of Obama, Biden, Kerry and Samantha Power came down. As of February 17 they have not been replaced.
  But as elsewhere an "Alt USUN" Twitter account continues in a parallel online universe the views of Power, recently calling out Nikki Haley for only attending three of 13 UN Security Council meetings, on Ukraine, ISIS and Israel - Palestine.

  Fair enough. But how many meetings did Samantha Power attend? And after the Israel - Palestine meeting Nikki Haley took questions at the Security Council stakeout, not pre-screened by Power's spokesman Kurtis Cooper.

  Now the account is opposing any US budget cuts to the UN, and retweeting critiques of Rex Tillerson hand picking media to accompany his trip to Asia. Did they say anything when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took no press, or when Antonio Guterres handpicked Al Jazeera to accompany him to Somalia?

  In fact, Isobel Coleman who did nothing when the DC-based whistleblower protection group Government Accountability Project wrote to her about the UN's eviction of the investigative Press, here, still as of February 17 lists herself as the US representative on UN reform. Is it true?

   In the UN itself, Obama and Hillary Clinton nominee Jeffrey Feltman has gotten his UN contract extended. Inner City Press first reported, from multiple sources, that Feltman sought this so that his UN pension would hit the five year vesting dateline. The UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called Inner City Press' question, and by implication Inner City Press, "despicable." Or is that, deplorable?

  Meanwhile Voice of America, which was shown under the US Freedom of Information Act to have asked the UN to throw out the investigative Press, has now asked about Jared Kushner (video via here) and asked the UK about Nikki Haley's inexperience. Like we said, an alternative universe.

  Other former State Department officials like Bathsheba Crocker wring their hands about changes in foreign policy. But what did they do, when the UN killed 10,000 plus people in Haiti with cholera? They had their time to try to improve the UN, and largely failed. It's time to #MoveOn.


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