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Israel Elected Vice Chair of UN Decolonization Com'te, 68 Abstentions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- When an Israeli diplomat was presented as candidate for vice chair of the UN's Fourth or Decolonization Committee by the Western European and Other Group, a vote was called for on June 18 and angry speeches ensued.

  Of the UN's 193 members, 159 cast votes. But 15 were invalid, and fully 68 abstained. Of those remaining, 76 voted for Israel's candidate, who was thus elected.

  Then Qatar's Permanent Representative for the Arab Group denounced Israel's “provocative statements” and “flagrant contempt for the General Assembly.”

  UK Deputy Peter Wilson, speaking for WEOG, expressed concern that a vote was called for, disrespecting the regional group's decision.

  Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative said that WEOG has in the past opposed other groups' candidates, for whatever reason. He added that putting Israel as vice chair in the Decolonization Committee is like putting the Mafia in charge of the crown jewels, or voting for apartheid South Africa.

  One wag recalled that just the day before, the US State Department's spokesperson said that Iraq's Maliki saying Saudi Arabia is supporting “genocide” through the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was “offensive.” As Qatar spoke, the US politics around the trade of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban commanders now in Qatar came to mind.

  Ibrahim Dabbashi, Permanent Representative of Libya which is protesting the US arrest and carting away of Ahmed Abu Khattalah, said that Israel is unqualified to be vice chair of any committee in the UN.

  Israel's Permanent Representative Ron Prosor, whose Mission had quoted him saying “by questioning Israel’s eligibility to serve as Vice-Chair, the Arab Group is standing in opposition to all 28 Member States of WEOG,” said that the winning vote upheld the rules and principles of the UN.

  US Deputy Permanent Representative Rosemary DiCarlo decried politicization; Canada said that a vote should not even have been called.

  At the day's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhaq Haq for a read-out of the 10:30 am meeting of Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson with Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine -- as well as of Eliasson's meeting with the African Union's envoy on Western Sahara (yes, Decolonization) on June 17.

  By 5 pm, no read-outs had been provided by the UN.

  As it neared 5 pm in the General Assembly, Iran asserted the right to reply, to counter Prosor's referring to “Iran in his racist remarks.” And then it was over, with a large crowd watching the Chile - Spain World Cup game in the Delegates Lounge, the UN proceeding apace. Watch this site.


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