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At UN, Netanyahu Links US & Israeli Bombing, Of Iran & Jeter, Applause

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 29, more here -- When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his speech in the UN General Assembly on September 29, he said Israel bombing Gaza to get Hamas was the same as the US bombing Syria and Iraq to get ISIL.

  Strike at least two New York City notes, Netanyahu said that the distance between the 1967 lines and Tel Aviv was similar to that between the UN building and Times Square: seven blocks. He snarked that saying Iran doesn't practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter doesn't play shortstop. But isn't Jeter now retired?

  There were several rounds of applause, and some took them at face value. A Free UN Coalition for Access member in the room said it was a cheering squad to the side. Any speaker could have brought such a squad. But would the UN have allowed it?

 Earlier on September 29, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman took three questions at the General Assembly stakeout. The only one in English was set aside for the head of the UN Correspondents Association, who asked about Iran. The Free UN Coalition for Access opposes such set aside, especially to what has become the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  Liberman had previously said that UN envoy Robert Serry would be leaving his position in October, a deadline Inner City Press then asked Serry about. (Serry said it is up to Ban Ki-moon, and that Ban's five year rule is not a rule.) But it was not possible to ask Lieberman about this on September 29.

 Back on August 18, Serry said, "on three occasions, there was a direct hit on UNRWA schools...A total of 38 people were killed in those three incidents, and 317 were injured. Eleven UNRWA colleagues were killed in the line of duty. The Secretary General has called for a thorough investigation into these incidents to assure full accountability.”

  So in the 12 days between the two statements, has anything been done? In 2009, Ban was lobbied about his cover-letter to the previous board of inquiry report by Ian Martin; now in 2014, as it made up for it, he accepted free private jet travel from Qatar, with its stake and position in the conflict. Neither is acceptable.

 On the latter, Israel's Ambassador Ron Prosor came out of the Council after Serry's public briefing and said, among other things, that Qatar has bought campuses of six universities, Harrod's and the PSG football club. He cited the 2022 World Cup, but did not mention Ban accepting the Qatar-funded private jet. He passed out a flier, "Captured Hamas Combat Manuel," which Inner City Press put online here.

 Back on August 6 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if Ban would at least set up a Board of Inquiry as was done in 2009. (Inner City Press first published the cover-letter, here.)

  Haq wouldn't say if a Board of Inquiry would be set up; he called the decision an internal one. Video here and embedded below. But Wikileaks released documents showing that Ban allowed himself to be lobbied about the 2009 Board of Inquiry report by Ian Martin, including on what should go in "his" cover letter. See here. And this time?

 Update: UN staff have written to Ban, the GA President and this month's Security Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, asking for accountability. The letter is here. We hope to have more on this.

   In the August 6 UNGA meeting on Gaza, the UN's coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry this process “may also need action by the Membership, including the Security Council, at the appropriate time.”

  As the meeting began, a Permanent Representative who has previously complained of General Assembly inaction on Gaza now noted that no outcome was even proposed to the GA meeting, "just talk."

  An hour before the belated General Assembly meeting began, a closed-door consultation was called on the Jordan-drafted proposed Security Council resolution, at the level (mostly) of Permanent Representative. The day before on August 5 it was said that this draft is already "in blue" -- strange, if it is still being negotiated.

  But in front of the General Assembly on August 6, an African diplomat told Inner City Press that the resolution was put "in blue" precisely in order to block any General Assembly action. When the Security Council is seized of a matter, he said, the General Assembly cannot act.

  So what is going on in this ping-pong between UN Security Council and UN General Assembly, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has still not corrected his August 1 statement that an Israeli Defense Forces solider was "captive" of Hamas, now that the IDF said he was killed in action? Watch this site.

On August 1 at noon in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through his spokesman said that an Israeli Defense Forces soldier had been taken captive and that this called "into question the credibility of Hamas' assurances to the United Nations. The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier."

  Later on August 1, a range of UN officials described to Inner City Press the pressure put on Ban to rule that Hamas broke the ceasefire and held captive an IDF soldier.  "How does he know?" one UN official demanded.

   On August 2, the IDF said that the soldier, Hadar Goldin, "was killed in action." 

  So on August 4, with no correction issued by the UN, Inner City Press asked Ban's associate spokesperson Vannina Maestracci if there would be any correction, since Ban's statement was used --

  Maestracci cut off the question, "let me stop you right there," and said that the UN tried to get things right with fast moving events. Video here, and embedded below.

  Fine - but when as here the UN was wrong, aren't they supposed to correct it? Maestracci's colleagues have repeatedly said that they correct the record when necessary. Is that the case? What about this case? Watch this site.

At 5:30 pm on July 31 the UN announced its spokesman Stephane Dujarric would read out a statement, "for the cameras," in its briefing room. Inner City Press ran there but arrived just as Dujarric finished reading the ceasefire statement.

   But the first line said, "the UN Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza."  With the ceasefire in shambles, that is dubious.

  Haaretz has reported that Serry "spoke with Hamas leadership in Gaza."

  So on August 1 Inner City Press put two questions to UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman. First, would he confirm that Serry spoke with Hamas in Gaza?

   And second, as a former - and future? - US officials, does Feltman think the UN should at least disclose when Ban Ki-moon accepts "in kind" / gifts such as the Qatari-funded private jet he flew on to Doha, to mediate on Gaza.

  Dujarric cut off this question to Feltman, saying that it was already answered. But there is no routine disclosure by the UN. And the impact on the UN's political role is obvious, for example considering that this was the ONLY question asked of Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem (the UN censored it), and it's been asked at the UN Security Council stakeout.

  Dujarric did not answer when asked, shouldn't there be disclosure. He called it "in kind" - but is it subtracted from what Qatar owes or pays the UN in dues?

  Then Feltman refused to say if Serry spoke with Hamas, saying that he wasn't with Serry. So Feltman doesn't know? Or won't say?

 It's one thing for a diplomat from a country to say, that's secret. But since the UN ostensibly represents, works for and is accountable at least to all 193 states, if not to "we the peoples," on what logic are these things secret? We'll have more on this.

   Earlier on July 31 outside the UN Security Council, Israel's Ambassador Ron Prosor and then the State of Palestine's Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour took questions from the Press.

  Inner City Press asked Prosor about Krahenbuhl's call to end the blockade of Gaza. Prosor replied that Israel has no interest in being in Gaza -- what, is there oil there, he asked rhetorically -- but cited and showed charts of Hamas rocket fire, and tunnels (which he said are funded by Qatar).

  Inner City Press asked Mansour about the US Department of Defense' confirmation of new ammunition transfers to Israel (see below).

  Mansour said that more weapons are not needed; he said that the killing of entire families would make peace much more difficult to achieve but that it should be strived for, an independent state of Palestine.

  In the UN Security Council, the Gaza issue has essentially been delegated to the US. In the UN Security Council on July 30, Nigeria criticized the Council's delay in issuing even a Presidential Statement; Chad called the Council "impotent."

  At the end of Rwandan presidency reception later on July 30, Inner City Press was told by more than one Council member that it is all up to the US. But, one might ask, how can a party transferring ammunition be considering an honest broker?

  Couldn't this transfer had been at least delayed? But that too would have been a story, bigger than this one, which Inner City Press was notified was broken by CNN, leading to this statement:

"The Department of Defense received a letter of request from the Israeli Ministry of Defense on July 20 for a normal Foreign Military Sales delivery of ammunition.  The appropriate DoD activities processed the request through normal inter-agency processes, resulting in a signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance on July 23.
"Two of the requested munitions were available in the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel (WRSA-I), on the ground in Israel, and were therefore delivered to the Israeli Defense Force from this stockpile. Both munitions had been in WRSA-I stock for a few years, well before the current crisis.  All stocks in WRSA-I, as required by law, are "in excess to U.S. requirements." Issuing munitions from the WRSA-I stockpile was strictly a sourcing decision and White House approval was not required.

 "The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This defense sale is consistent with those objectives."

  Thus spake the US Pentagon, or at least its spokesperson Kirby. But what will UN Security Council members say, at their July 31 session? Watch this site.

 Back on July 27-28, the Security Council convened to adopted a Presidential Statement, below.

 Afterward, Inner City Press asked Jordan's Deputy Permanent Representative why no vote had been called the draft resolution, if there was one or more vetoes or abstaining votes that would block it.

  He said things haven't reached that stage; rather it was a matter of seeing when the members of the Council thought a resolution would be useful to support of ceasefire.

  Some ask: so is that the UN Security Council's only function?

  Inner City Press asked Israel's Ron Prosor about the different drafts leaked to Haaretz and Al Jazeera (which Inner City Press noted, here). Prosor went wider scope with his answer. A ceasefire did not sound closer.

  Prosor was also asked about Ban Ki-moon flying around in a Qatar-funded private jet - a question on which Inner City Press first reported eight days ago, and on which Ban himself should answer.

 Palestine's Riyad Mansour cited as a precedent a 1994 Security Council resolution providing protecting in Hebron, by Norwegians in white shirts, he said. He said he wished the Presidential Statement had called for Israel to pull out of Gaza, and that he wished for a resolution. We will continue on this.

  Inner City Press immediately inquired and was informed it was to adopt a Presidential Statement; the version below was provided. But why not a resolution? Why proceeding so cautiously, compared most recently with the July 21 resolution on MH17 in Ukraine? 

  Earlier, with even the “humanitarian pause” over in Gaza, the draft "framework" agreement rejected by the Israeli cabinet on July 25 was leaked from both sides.

   But the versions leaked by each side were different.

  On Al Jazeera a one-page document was waved around, which had Qatar in the first paragraph as one of the signatories making commitments, which provided for the opening of “border and non-border” crossings and specified fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles, and a $47 million commitment by the US.

  In the “5 pm Confidential Draft” published by Ha'aretz, Qatar is the last paragraph (without Egypt), fishing rights and the $47 million from the US are not specified, nor are “non-border” crossing being opened.

  At least, the two sides leaked different stages or versions of the draft. Or is there more to this, in the spin war that this stage of the Gaza war has become?

  (The drafts are different; Al Jazeera is saying Ha'aretz stole its scoop. There may be more to this.)

  Meanwhile, silence at the UN with the draft Security Council resolution of Jordan and the Arab League not scheduled for a vote, and canned statements from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who after taking a Qatar-funded private jet from New York to Doha refused through his spokespeople to answer Inner City Press' follow-up questions on who paid for the rest of his travel. Watch this site.


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