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With Gaza Death Toll 180 to Zero, Ban's Order & Abhor Leads to Review

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14, more here -- 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 issues, Inner City Press is informed.

 On the other hand, when UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness tweeted "Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert   +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atmos," the non-governmental organization UN Watch took issue.

  UN Watch sent out a press release that it "called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reprimand a top official in Gaza who is telling reporters to interview a Norwegian doctor and radical politician who in September 2001 created a front-page scandal by openly supporting the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians."

  Gunness responded, "Just 2 b clear: Prof Gilbert is an eminent academic & author of latest UNRWA Health report allowed to Gaza by Israel yesterday."  And so it goes.

  On July 12 at noon the UN Security Council issued a press statement on Gaza, after several rounds of back and forth. After that, nothing stopped -- nothing at all.

  Just past noon in New York Inner City Press asked the State of Palestine's Observer Riyad Mansour of the status of the (stronger) draft resolution, and if he expects US Secretary of State John Kerry to mediate or facilitate.

  Mansour said if Israel does not stop, other steps will be taken including in the Security Council.

  Hours later, the Israel Defense Force itself confirmed to Ha'aretz and others that "Israel Navy's Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) commando unit raided a target in the Gaza Strip."

  Now what?

  As Inner City Press reported on July 11, the press statement had initially been scheduled for 9:30 pm, then after a brief delay sources attributed to the US, was circulated to other Council members at 10:20 pm, under the "silence procedure" until 9 am on July 12. This was extended to noon.

   But at that time, the Security Council presidency, the Mission of Rwanda, told Inner City Press that the silence procedure was extended until 12 noon, when Rwandan ambassador Gasana would read the statement on-camera at the Council stakeout.

  Inner City Press asked, did any Council "break silence," and raise an issue? The Rwandan UN Security Council presidency replied, "Yes, very short silence procedure. Text put into silence Friday evening at 10:20 pm to expire Saturday morning at 9 am."

   It's true: the "other thirteen" in the Security Council, beyond the US and Jordan, shouldn't be taken for granted. They too have to check with their capitals.

  Another source said the final three hours delay was so the Security Council president could read it out on-camera. Afterward, a Gulf media demanded an explanation of the three hour delay, then asked another question to Mansour and the Saudi Ambassador beside him.

  Tellingly, hours later that same Gulf media posted online a story about the UN Security Council press statement quoting Reuters, not present at the stakeout, about the statement.

  Meanwhile, Reuters claimed a (compensated) "exclusive" about Jordan and the US on Syria -- without even mentioning the two countries' negotiations about the Gaza output(s) of the UN Security Council.

  On July 11 after Inner City Press specified the timing -- and the stated theory that the US gave in after an emergency session of the Arab Group at the UN moved toward a resolution that the US would have to veto -- something changed.

  This month's Security Council president's Deputy Permanent Representative stepped forward at 9:43, on Twitter, to say that "No Council member has received any draft statement on Gaza this evening."

 And a quick check by Inner City Press resulted in a response that the US then delayed putting the draft under the "silence procedure" - and the four-paragraph draft, first published by Inner City Press here:

The Security Council expresses serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.

The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire.

Security Council members further called for respect for International Humanitarian Law, including the protection of civilians.

Security Council members also expressed their support for resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution.”

  Informed sources told Inner City Press that while the US, or "Washington," initially said they would accept no Security Council action at this point, once an emergency meeting of the Arab Group moved for a draft resolution, the US changed tack.

  "The US doesn't want to have to veto, so they can continue to point the finger at Russia and China on Syria," as one source put it.  So the US agreed - or was said to agree -- to a press statement calling for a ceasefire.
  The source went on "If Israel disregards it and continues, what will the Council do?" What, indeed.

  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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