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After Gaza Deal, Israel Talks Iran, Rice Opposes Observer State Status

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 21 -- For a week on Gaza, the Security Council met behind closed doors. Finally on Wednesday after the ceasefire was announced in Cairo, the Council agreed on a Press Statement.

  After President Hardeep Singh Puri read it out, Inner City Press asked him about the delay, and what role if any he thought the Council had in the reaching of the ceasefire. He said it was not yet time for assessments, but at least "we got an outcome."

  But what outcome? Inner City Press asked Israel's Deputy Permanent Representative Waxman is the deal means ships to Gaza will no longer be intercepted, but only inspected. He answered that the week showed the volume of weapons Iran is getting into Gaza.

  When Moroccan Ambassador Loulichki, who represented the Arab Group throughout the week, came out Inner City Press asked him what impact he thought the week would have on the November 29 voting on Palestine's resolution to upgrade to Observer State status at the UN.

  Loulichki said that it should be kept separate, that the position of regional groups remains the same. Earlier in the day Hardeep Singh Puri, this time representing the IBSA grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa, read out a statement on Gaza that included support for the Palestine move for Observer State status.

  When US Ambassador Susan Rice came out, and after she gave a well-prepared answer to a question on her TV appearances on the attack on Benghazi, Inner City Press asked her about Palestine's application:

Inner City Press: I'm going to ask you a Gaza question although I definitely respect the right of people to ask a follow up to that [Benghazi]. I just wanted to ask you one-on Palestine, the controversy here at the UN about Palestine seeking observer state status. You heard Ambassador Loulichki say there's no relation between the fighting in Gaza and the vote, and Israel obviously said states should think again. The U.S. opposes the vote, but what effect do you think this week of fighting-do you agree that this shows that the Palestinian Authority has no control over Gaza? Should it make fewer states vote in favor of Palestine becoming a state observer at the UN?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I'll let other states comment on how they see the Palestinian bid for observer state status in the General Assembly. From the United States' point of view, we've been very clear. Our goal remains a negotiated, two-state solution. A Jewish democratic state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent, viable Palestinian state. The only way to accomplish that in the real world is through direct negotiations, and we continue to urge the parties to come back to the table and to resume those direct negotiations. We view unilateral steps, including the bid for upgraded status to statehood-observer state status at the General Assembly-to be counterproductive and not take us closer to that goal, and, therefore, we strongly oppose it.

We'll be here on November 29, and until and after then. Watch this site.

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