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On Referring Gaza to the ICC, UN Rapporteur Doubts 9 Votes on UNSC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- When the UN's new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono, held a UN press conference on October 29, Inner City Press asked him if he is calling for referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court, as his follow Indonesian UN Rapporteur Marsuki Darusman is, with regard to North Korea.

   The question is about the mandate and scope of rapporteurs. Darusman at the end of his October 28 press conference discussed in the briefing room with scribes how a pending General Assembly resolution might be modified in exchange for him getting into North Korea, video here.

    Wibisono replied that the first step would be for the Palestinian parties -- that would be, Hamas and Fatah -- to unite and decide to apply to join the ICC.

   But, Inner City Press pointed out, North Korea is not a member of the ICC. Darusman is calling for the situation to be sent to the UN Security Council for a vote on referring it to the ICC.

   Wibisono's answer to the follow up did not mention the expected veto(es) - which could well be applicable to North Korea, but hasn't dissuaded Darusman or Japan or the European Union -- but instead said he doubted there are nine “Yes” votes in the Security Council to refer the situation in Gaza to the ICC.

   Would that remain the same after January 1, with Venezuela, Malaysia and Angola coming onto the Security Council, along with New Zealand and Spain? Watch this site.

   As the Palestine debate of the UN Security Council went on in the Council chamber on October 21, 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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