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On Gaza, Ban Is Now In Qatar, But UN Won't Confirm Qatari Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 20, more here -- On the day UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to begin his "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.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press 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.

   Even with Ban already in Qatar, Ban's spokesman has responded but still not yet answered. One might wonder what can be solved, if you can't even say how you got there.

  Now John Kerry is headed to Cairo - how will that change Ban's magical mysterious tour?

 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

  But obviously the "logistical details" of getting to Qatar were worked out - Ban is IN Qatar, and Dujarric's office put out a transcript of Ban's remarks with the Qatari foreign minister, that "I look forward to meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later this evening to continue our discussions and find the way to peace.  I am going to visit the countries in the region including Egypt, Ramallah and Israel and some other countries wherever I need to be."

  One might ask, what can you solve if you can't even say how you got there?

  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.

  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.

  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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