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For Ban's Trip to Qatar, UN Won't Yet Confirm Qatari Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 19, more here -- On the day UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to "travel to the region" of Israel and Palestine, diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban will fly -- on a Qatari plane -- to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

    They questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

   Ban's spokesman has responded but not yet answered.

 Inner City Press asked Ban's top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

"Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

"Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at]

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG's trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.


Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  Inner City Press has thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, "both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko's office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?"

    For now we note that the Qatari foreign ministry has listed on its website, for example, receiving a call from Ban Ki-moon. Earlier on July 19, this came out from Jeddah:

"The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, asked the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon to visit the Gaza Strip during his current tour of the region in order to observe first hand the severe damage to innocent human lives, the destructions of homes and infrastructure caused by the unrelenting Israeli raids on Gaza, that have also claimed the lives of hundreds of mostly defenseless Palestinian elderly and children."

  On July 18 after the Gaza meeting of the UN Security Council, the Press was sent "the revised draft resolution that will be put before the Members of the Security Council by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in its capacity as the Arab representative on the Security Council."

  Inner City Press put the document online, here, explicitly comparing it to Resolution 1860 (2009), which passed because the US abstained but did not veto, as it would later do on settlements. We will stay on this.

  Earlier on July 18 In his briefing to the Security Council, Under Secretary General Jeffrey Feltman droned on for five pages until he said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “will leave for the region tomorrow, to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and to help them, in coordination with regional and international actors, end the violence and find a way forward.”

 At that very moment, Ban was upstairs meeting with an Italian official. Downstairs, former US official Feltman said that the the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, “is stretched to the limit, raising fears that further civilians warned of IDF operations could not be accommodated.”

  Feltman left until the end of his speech to the Council Ban's plan to travel to the region, starting on Saturday.

  But will Ban be going to Gaza?

  Meanwhile the French government has banned a demonstration planned for July 19 about the situation of Palestinians in Gaza.

  Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq for the UN's position. Haq said "our general point of view on this is that people have a right to peaceful protest.... We'd have to see how this proceeds, you're talking about something to happen in the future."

  But the ban is already in place.

  While the French government predicts that Saturday's demonstration would be violent, that's akin to prior restraint or profiling. There are have peaceful protests about Palestine in France, for example on July 16.

  But from Niger -- appropriately -- Francois Hollande said “we cannot allow the conflict to be imported into France."

 Is Ban's UN criticizing France? Is a man biting a chien? Whether a formal statement comes out may be the test.

  So how is a statement of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon produced? The question was raised by those, both in the real / outside world and even inside the UN who were surprised by this Ban statement of July 13:

The Secretary-General, abhorring the images of Israeli families hovering in shelters in fear for their children's safety, repeats his condemnation of Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza and demands an immediate cessation of these indecent attacks. The Secretary-General is also deeply worried about the impact on Palestinian families of Israeli military action.”

   Several UN officials expressed surprise or even "disgust... at putting Israel first despite no deaths versus 180 in Palestine, abhorring the first but only 'deeply worried' about Gazans."

  And so based on complaints and reporting, Inner City Press can say that such statements are said to originate with a desk officer in UN Department of Political Affairs, run by former US diplomat Jeffrey Feltman.
  Then they are reviewed, on the Middle East, by Antonella Caruso, then Feltman, then in Ban's office one Andrew Gilmour. That's how this statement was issued, Inner City Press is informed.

  On July 12 at noon the UN Security Council issued a press statement on Gaza, after several rounds of back and forth. After that, nothing stopped -- nothing at all.

  Just past noon in New York Inner City Press asked the State of Palestine's Observer Riyad Mansour of the status of the (stronger) draft resolution, and if he expects US Secretary of State John Kerry to mediate or facilitate.

  Mansour said if Israel does not stop, other steps will be taken including in the Security Council.

  Hours later, the Israel Defense Force itself confirmed to Ha'aretz and others that "Israel Navy's Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) commando unit raided a target in the Gaza Strip."

  Now what?

  A Gulf media demanded an explanation of the three hour delay, then asked another question to Mansour and the Saudi Ambassador beside him.

  Tellingly, hours later that same Gulf media posted online a story about the UN Security Council press statement quoting Reuters, not present at the stakeout, about the statement.

  Meanwhile, Reuters claimed a (compensated) "exclusive" about Jordan and the US on Syria -- without even mentioning the two countries' negotiations about the Gaza output(s) of the UN Security Council.

  On July 11 after Inner City Press specified the timing -- and the stated theory that the US gave in after an emergency session of the Arab Group at the UN moved toward a resolution that the US would have to veto -- something changed.

  Informed sources told Inner City Press that while the US, or "Washington," initially said they would accept no Security Council action at this point, once an emergency meeting of the Arab Group moved for a draft resolution, the US changed tack.

  "The US doesn't want to have to veto, so they can continue to point the finger at Russia and China on Syria," as one source put it.  So the US agreed - or was said to agree -- to a press statement calling for a ceasefire.
  The source went on "If Israel disregards it and continues, what will the Council do?" What, indeed.

  Inside the Security Council on July 10, Israel's Ron Prosor told BanKi-moon that while he had given his speech, five rockets had been fired at Israel (Prosor played a rocket warning siren on his phone, to make his point.) At the stakeout, on-camera, Prosor raised the number of rockets to six.

  While Palestine's Riyad Mansour spoke on camera, the stakeout was nearly full with journalists. But when Prosor spoke there were far fewer -- one of whom told Inner City Press, “This is a question for FUNCA,” the Free UN Coalition for Access. Again Prosor played the rocket siren warning, and used the line “From Abuja to Falluja.”

  Inner City Press asked Prosor about those who say Hamas is not formally part of the unity government; he replied, “Hamas is Hamas.”

  On Palestine joining or complaining to the International Criminal Court, Inner City Press' question which Ban Ki-moon dodged on July 9, Prosor did not answer. Yet.

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