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Palestine Gains Observer State Status Under Law of the Sea, US Opposes

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- At this week's Law of the Sea meetings, Palestine participated for the first time as an Observer State. While statements of objection were made by Canada, Israel and the US, the new status was triggered by Palestine's joining UNESCO, a UN system specialized agency. This gives them Observer State status in the Law of the Sea.

  There is a history here. A for-now exclusive look back by Inner City Press finds that on July 11, 1974, Senegal proposed an "invitation to national liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity or by the League of Arab States to participate in the Conference as observers."

  Mr. Najar of Israel opposed it, on procedural then substantive grounds. Then it was approved with two votes against it: (apartheid) South Africa and Israel. There were 35 absentions. Mr. Stevenson of the US then "placed on the record that the decision just adopted by the Conference did not prejudice the position of the participants concerning the matter of the Conference's competence."

  Plus ca change. On June 4, 2012, the representative of Canada said the way Palestine was seated created a “misleading impression." Israel said it opposes "political posturing" in an "otherwise neutral, professional forum."

  On June 7, after the Palestinian Observer offered congratulations, Israel called this an effort to hijack the work of the States parties, arguing that the only way to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations, without preconditions or shortcuts. But what about the sea?

  One of the opponents of Palestine's status told Inner City Press, in front of the General Assembly on Friday morning, that Palestine's move was "b.s.... they don't even have a dingy" or row boat.

  "Because they blow it up," came the response.

  Later on Friday, some Law of the Sea speeches were listened to by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose Secretariat's accreditation of the Jewish National Fund to go to Rio + 20 (while refusing to follow through on statements that it would re-accredit Inner City Press to cover the UN on June 4) have yet to be explained. And so it goes at the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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