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On Israel Paying For Oil Slick Off Lebanon, NZ Votes Yes, Aussies No

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 18 -- Fully 170 UN member states in the General Assembly voted on December 19 for Israel to compensate Lebanon for the oil slick off its shores caused in 2006.

  A predictable six voted "no" -- United States, Israel, Canada, Australia, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

 But as with the Palestine self-determination vote on December 18, the abstentions were noteworthy: Cameroon, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. (Cameroon abstained on Palestine self-determination too).

  Also noteworthy: Australia, which is leaving the Security Council in 11 days, voted "No" on compensation by Israel, while New Zealand, which is coming onto the Council in its place voted "yes." Along with Malaysia replacing South Korea, does this portent another vote-gain for the Palestinian UNSC resolution?

 Amid reports that if the Palestine resolution fails this month in the UN Security Council, Palestine will immediately join the International Criminal Court, Inner City Press on December 11 asked the State of Palestine's Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour about it. Video here.

 On December 18 in the UN General Assembly, a resolution on the "Right of the Palestinian People to Self Determination" was adopted with 180 votes in favor, seven against and four abstentions.

  The seven against were predictable: Israel, the US, Canada and four islands: Nauru, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

 The four abstentions, however, were more surprising, including the country most recently accepted by the UN as a new member state, South Sudan.

 Also abstaining were Cameroon, Tonga and Paraguay. 

(Palau, it should be noted, joined with previous nay-sayers US, Ukraine and Canada in voting no an a resolution opposing the glorification of Nazism. And so it goes at the UN.)

  On December 17, after an afternoon meeting of the Arab Group in the UN, Mansour spoke again. He announced that a modified draft resolution would be "put in blue" - that is, prepared for a vote in as little as 24 hours. But he did not say when a vote would be called: in 2015, or in January when the composition of the Security Council changes in Palestine's favor, for example with Malaysia replacing South Korea.

   The text of the draft put "in blue" is below:

Draft Resolution (17 December 2014)

Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,
Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties, Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,
Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:

- borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps;

- security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.

- A just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);

- Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;

- an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement andprovocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

  On December 16, a Senior State Department official said:

"Today, Secretary Kerry met in London separately with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, and with Arab League Secretary General Nabil El Araby and members of the Arab League Special Committee. In both meetings, the Secretary exchanged thoughts about the situation in the region, ongoing deliberations related to possible UN Security Council action, and the United States' interest in finding a path forward to reduce tensions and de-escalate the situation on the ground. All the parties agreed to continue their consultations going forward."

  So what does this mean, on the resolution(s)? Inner City Press on December 11 asked Palestine's Observer Riyad Mansour if the US was engaged in any negotiations on the resolutions proffered by Jordan or France. He said no, then added "you are a smart journalist," asking if France would do this work without coordination with or against the interests of the US. Afterward another journalist joked this meant, "French puppet." So what's up?

  Back on December 11, Inner City Press asked Mansour about the relation between the resolution(s) and Palestine joining the International Criminal Court.

  Mansour said the two are not conditional, and that Palestine wants to join the ICC, as is being urged at the current session of the ICC Assembly of State Parties at which Palestine is now a non-member state. Video here.

  Meanwhile the US Continuing Resolution / Omnibus on Capital Hill has this to say:

"None of the funds appropriated under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act may be made available for assistance for the Palestinian Authority, if after the date of enactment of this Act—

"(I) the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians; or

"(II) the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians."

  Earlier this week, Palestine's Riyad Mansour was in UN Conference Room 1, with Palestine a non-member state, which no one opposed when proposed. Now this.

  Earlier this month Palestine and the Arab League said Jordan would be pushing in the UN Security Council for a vote in December on a draft resolution which would set a timeline to end Israel's occupation, now January is being mentioned.

  At first the commitment was to have a vote in November, when Australia was president of the Security Council. It didn't happen. On December 2, Inner City Press asked the Council president for December, Chadian Ambassador Mahamat Zene Cherif, why only a "Middle East debate" and not a vote on a Palestine resolution is on the Program of Work for December.

  Ambassador Cherif said he is not yet seized of any Palestine resolution. Amid talk of a French resolution -- French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said on December 2 there is "no rush" on a resolution -- now Jordan's Ambassador Dina Kawar says "We're going to try to make it before Christmas. If not, it will be in January."

  As Inner City Press exclusively reported, based on Security Council communications, Chad was pressured to not schedule any meetings after December 19. It pushed back, and scheduled one for December 22. But that's it.

  Already, the delay has been long. It was cold, for example, at the UNRWA event held just outside the UN on December 2, photographed by the Free UN Coalition for Access, here. In one month's time, Venezuela and Spain join the Security Council, along with Angola, Malaysia and New Zealand. Wouldn't the draft get more "yes" votes in January 2015 than in December 2014?

   Rather than analyze this, Reuters for example again vaguely reports that "some diplomats have described the Palestinian-drafted text as 'unbalanced.'" For whom? Now Reuters adds, "some Western Council diplomats." So helpful.

 Back on October 21 as the Palestine debate of the UN Security Council went on in the Council chamber, Inner City Press conferred with a range of Council sources about the pending draft resolution to set a time frame to end Israel's occupation.

Negotiations were held on the draft last week but only at the “expert” level, not of Permanent Representatives of the Council's 15 members. Supporters of the current draft, according to Inner City Press' sources, include China and Russia, Argentina and Chile, Chad and it was assumed Nigeria, although sources say Nigeria in consultations said they didn't yet have instructions.

France was described as more excited by the draft than either the US or the UK, as not have a problem with a time frame to end the Occupation but wanting unstated changes to the draft. France did not put forth amendments, a source told Inner City Press, guessing that France didn't want to “embarrass” the US Administration before the November mid-term elections.

The UK was described as less enthusiastic, but as somehow “softened” by the recent vote in Parliament favoring recognizing Palestine as a state.

Talk turned to the new members of the Security Council coming in on January 1, with Malaysia instead of South Korea seen as a shift in favor of Palestine as a state. (This reporter's Security Council elections coverage is collected here.) Angola and Venezuela are seen as supportive and “even Spain,” as one source put it to Inner City Press. But what about New Zealand? We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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