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On Gaza, AHLC Presser Has Nothing on IMF, Power Plant at End, Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 22, more here -- When ministers of Norway, Israel and the State of Palestine held a press conference after the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee meeting on September 22, one expected discussion of the International Monetary Fund report written for the meeting, and of the Gaza power plant.

  But the moderator, from Norway, let the first question be seized by three mumbled questions by the UN Correspondents Association's representative, who claimed this was his right. It is not. Then, the moderator allowed one of the countries on the panel to dictate who could ask questions.

  Finally, Inner City Press asked Palestine's finance minister, "What about the Gaza power plant?"

  He said the plant is the most unlucky in history -- its first partner was Enron. And then it was over, with no IMF questions.

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access opposes set-aside first questions; this was one of the worst examples. Add to it that the UNCA Executive Board tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, making it the UN's Censorship Alliance, and this grabbing will be further opposed.

  On Gaza back on September 16 when seven-year UN envoy Robert Serry briefed the UN Security Council, he said “I hope the Council will have the opportunity to make its own position clear."

   During the conflict and in the three weeks since, the Security Council has not adopted or even voted on any resolution.

   Serry said that Ban Ki-moon "plans to commission a Board of Inquiry to review and investigate a number of incidents involving UN premises." This is vaguely worded, and does not say when the Board of Inquiry would begin, who would chair it, or what the scope of its mandate would be -- a point on which Ban was lobbied in 2009, as exposed by Wikileaks

   Back on August 18, Inner City Press asked Serry if he is leaving his position in October. Video here.

  Serry shook his head, said it is between him and Ban.

  Inner City Press asked about Ban's stated five-year rule for staying in a UN post. Serry replied if that were a rule, he would be in violation. So it is not a rule. But still: October, contract expiring?

  On the destroyed and damaged UNRWA schools, Inner City Press asked Serry if there will be a UN Board of Inquiry as in 2009. Serry said that too would be up to Ban. A month later, Serry referred to a "plan" of Ban.

   In the UN General Assembly meeting about Gaza on August 6, Ban said "attacks against UN premises, along with other suspected breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated."

  So in the 12 days between the two statements, has anything been done? In 2009, Ban was lobbied about his cover-letter to the previous board of inquiry report by Ian Martin; now in 2014, as it made up for it, he accepted free private jet travel from Qatar, with its stake and position in the conflict. Neither is acceptable.

 On the latter, Israel's Ambassador Ron Prosor came out of the Council after Serry's public briefing and said, among other things, that Qatar has bought campuses of six universities, Harrod's and the PSG football club. He cited the 2022 World Cup, but did not mention Ban accepting the Qatar-funded private jet. He passed out a flier, "Captured Hamas Combat Manuel," which Inner City Press put online here.

 Back on August 6 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if Ban would at least set up a Board of Inquiry as was done in 2009. (Inner City Press first published the cover-letter, here.)

  Haq wouldn't say if a Board of Inquiry would be set up; he called the decision an internal one. Video here and embedded below. But Wikileaks released documents showing that Ban allowed himself to be lobbied about the 2009 Board of Inquiry report by Ian Martin, including on what should go in "his" cover letter. See here. And this time?

 Update: UN staff have written to Ban, the GA President and this month's Security Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, asking for accountability. The letter is here. We hope to have more on this.

   In the August 6 UNGA meeting on Gaza, the UN's coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry this process “may also need action by the Membership, including the Security Council, at the appropriate time.”

  As the meeting began, a Permanent Representative who has previously complained of General Assembly inaction on Gaza now noted that no outcome was even proposed to the GA meeting, "just talk."

  An hour before the belated General Assembly meeting began, a closed-door consultation was called on the Jordan-drafted proposed Security Council resolution, at the level (mostly) of Permanent Representative. The day before on August 5 it was said that this draft is already "in blue" -- strange, if it is still being negotiated.

  But in front of the General Assembly on August 6, an African diplomat told Inner City Press that the resolution was put "in blue" precisely in order to block any General Assembly action. When the Security Council is seized of a matter, he said, the General Assembly cannot act.

  So what is going on in this ping-pong between UN Security Council and UN General Assembly, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has still not corrected his August 1 statement that an Israeli Defense Forces solider was "captive" of Hamas, now that the IDF said he was killed in action? Watch this site.

On August 1 at noon in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through his spokesman said that an Israeli Defense Forces soldier had been taken captive and that this called "into question the credibility of Hamas' assurances to the United Nations. The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier."

  Later on August 1, a range of UN officials described to Inner City Press the pressure put on Ban to rule that Hamas broke the ceasefire and held captive an IDF soldier.  "How does he know?" one UN official demanded.

   On August 2, the IDF said that the soldier, Hadar Goldin, "was killed in action." 

  So on August 4, with no correction issued by the UN, Inner City Press asked Ban's associate spokesperson Vannina Maestracci if there would be any correction, since Ban's statement was used --

  Maestracci cut off the question, "let me stop you right there," and said that the UN tried to get things right with fast moving events. Video here, and embedded below.

  Fine - but when as here the UN was wrong, aren't they supposed to correct it? Maestracci's colleagues have repeatedly said that they correct the record when necessary. Is that the case? What about this case? Watch this site.


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