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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Security Council’

Arab League Suspends Mission in Syria; Syria Condemns

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The Syrian government has condemned the Arab League decision to suspend its monitoring mission in Syria.

The Arab League decision comes in light of the sharp increase in violence over the weekend, with upwards of 40 people reported killed by government forces.

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution on Syria, but has to contend with veto-wielding Syria-backers Russia and China. An Arab League delegation will address Security Council members this week in attempts to lobby for harsh measures against the Syrian regime.
 

Russia Reiterates Disapproval of Western Handling of Syria

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again expressed his country’s disapproval of sanctions against Syria, and was vociferous in Russia’s opposition to foreign military intervention.

“We cannot support any proposals for sanctions imposed unilaterally without any consultation with Russia and China … to be consecrated in hindsight by a Security Council decision,” Lavrov said Wednesday after discussions with his Turkish counterpart.

In October 2011, Russia and China vetoed a Security Council resolution that condemned the Assad regime and would have served as a precursor to sanctions.

Russia continues to sell military equipment to Syria, despite Western calls not to arm the regime in its  11-month crackdown of dissidents.

 

Jewish Groups Seek To Thwart UN Recognition Of ‘Palestine’

Monday, April 18th, 2011


WASHINGTON – The path to international recognition of Palestinian statehood by September – when the Palestinians plan to bring the matter before the UN General Assembly – seems clear.


The question before Israel and its supporters who oppose such recognition is how to create a detour.


Some say the way to go is through diplomatic suasion. Others say there needs to be a push forward with peace initiatives. Still others believe that threatening counteractions is the best way to derail the Palestinian plan.


Israeli officials have warned that unilateral recognition of Palestine could be countered by unilateral Israeli steps, like West Bank annexation.


The only certainty is that Israel expects the fallout from such recognition of Palestine to be disastrous. Several weeks ago, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, called it a “diplomatic tsunami.”


At the moment, the Palestinian plan is to get a sympathetic nation on the 15-member UN Security Council, where decisions carry the weight of international law, to propose recognition, and at the same time to get two-thirds of the General Assembly to recognize the state of Palestine, in itself a propaganda victory.


Should the United States, as expected, veto a Security Council resolution recognizing Palestine, the Palestinians would try to invoke the rarely used General Assembly Resolution 377, also known as the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, which allows the General Assembly to override the Security Council.


The latter scenario is what Israel and its friends want to avoid; its use in 1981 set the legal framework for a decade of boycotts of South Africa that ultimately helped topple that country’s apartheid regime.


Israel and its allies are in agreement on the technical approach to running the Palestinian Authority approach off the road.


Step one is to avoid the necessity of a U.S. veto in the Security Council by thwarting the nine votes that any initiative needs to pass the 15-member Security Council, absent a veto. Failure to get such a majority on the Security Council likely would inhibit Palestinian efforts to bring the matter to the General Assembly, which meets in September.


Alan Elsner, senior communications director for The Israel Project, has been meeting in New York with UN diplomats this week. He counted off what he believed would be five sure votes against the proposal on the current council: Permanent members France, Britain and the United States, and rotating members Germany and Colombia.


“If they can’t get it through the Security Council, they would lose a lot of momentum,” he said of the Palestinian statehood push.


The focus then would be to draw in at least one more Western or Western-leaning country from among the rotating ten members. There are three possibilities, according to Elsner. One is Portugal. The second is EU aspirant Bosnia & Herzegovina, a Muslim country that is likely to side with the West given its lingering distrust of Russia for backing Serbia during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. The third is Gabon, an oil-rich West African autocracy that has close relations with France and that has been cultivated in recent years by Jewish leaders including Jack Rosen of the Council for World Jewry.


The other members of the council are permanent members Russia and China and rotating members India, Lebanon, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa.


The parallel strategy, Elsner said, is to lay the groundwork now by explaining to diplomats from 120 nations who routinely favor Palestinians that even a symbolic recognition of Palestine is no ordinary rebuke of Israel.


“The trick is to make countries aware that this is not a routine vote,” Elsner said, noting that such an effort already was underway in Congress. Key congressmen from both parties are reaching out to ambassadors to explain that such a vote would have repercussions in terms of relations with the United States.


David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, which focuses on U.S. Jewish outreach internationally, said European opposition to Palestinian statehood was not a sure thing.


“How the European Union will behave matters greatly,” Harris said, noting that the world’s 192 nations look to its 27 members for moral leadership. “Whether the EU will take a single unified position or will break down into national positions remains to be seen.”


Daniel Mariaschin, the executive director of B’nai B’rith International, said that when he meets with diplomats, he points out the long-term harm to peace that UN recognition would bring, in the absence of a real peace deal.


“The question at the beginning of the meeting goes like this,” he said, describing his approach with foreign diplomats and leaders. ” ‘Do you believe in a negotiated settlement as the best resolution for the conflict?’ They say ‘Yes.’ Then we say, ‘Why would you prejudge the outcome for recognizing a Palestinian state before contentious issues have been decided?’ “


Mariaschin noted that every peaceful outcome in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the result of negotiations, starting with the Egypt-Israel accords negotiated by Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat.


“Now we’re turning the clock back pre-Begin and Sadat, and it’s not a prescription for success,” Mariaschin said he tells these leaders.


Aaron David Miller, a longtime negotiator for successive U.S. administrations, outlined in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed how the initiative could boomerang on the Palestinians, causing Israel to take unilateral action.


“The Palestinian campaign will also prompt intensified Israeli settlement activity in an effort to remind Palestinians that Israeli actions are real, not virtual,” he wrote. “Should the Palestinians declare statehood, Israel will probably act to demarcate what part of the West Bank it intends to keep.”


Unilateral Palestinian action also would likely alienate the Obama administration and spur Congress to cut off funds, Miller said.


Those advocating the peace tracks say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to counter the Palestinian statehood push with a peace initiative serious enough to prompt allies of the Palestinians to nudge them back to direct talks with Israel.


“How Israel engages in its public diplomacy with regard to the resumption of the peace talks and how it engages in its private diplomacy will have real impact in shaping how other countries react,” Harris said. “Israel must convince the world it is absolutely dead serious about moving the peace process forward.”


Last week, Netanyahu joined Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the speaker of the House of Representatives, in announcing plans for an Israeli prime ministerial address to both chambers of Congress in the first week of May (see news brief, this page). That’s a signal of Netanyahu’s intention to present a new peace initiative.


Separately, U.S. officials have indicated that the Obama administration also is ready to re-enter the process after months of inactivity since the Palestinian walkout from direct peace talks with Israel in September, when Netanyahu refused to extend a self-imposed partial settlement freeze.


There are rumors circulating in Washington that President Obama plans to lay out his own vision even before Netanyahu’s arrival, in order to make sure the Israelis understand the American bottom line of a solution based on the 1967 borders, with adjustments.


The AJC’s Harris said Israel and the United States need to launch a “full-court press” by summer to head off recognition in the fall.


“The consequential countries are looking for signs and signals from Israel and the United States – what will the prime minister say to Congress next month, will President Obama come to Israel in the summer,” Harris said. “There are a lot of important moments that can happen between now and the fall.”


(JTA)

Goldstone Report Presents Major PR Challenge For Israel

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

So far, the UN fact-finding mission into last January’s war in Gaza has spawned a 574-page report faulting Israel for war crimes, op-eds calling on foreign governments to hold Israel accountable – including one by the report’s author – and strident denunciations of the findings by Israeli officials.

This may be just the beginning of the battle.

At the end of the month the former South African judge who headed the inquiry, Richard Goldstone, formally presents his findings to the UN body that commissioned the post-mortem, the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The council could vote to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.

In the end, however, the Goldstone recommendations are unlikely ever to acquire the force of law. The International Criminal Court cannot even consider war crimes prosecutions without the say-so of the Security Council – and that’s unlikely to happen given the veto power the United States exercises there.

But the political and public relations challenges for Israel presented by the Goldstone report are unlikely to go away soon.

“When one makes the charges that there were indiscriminate attacks on civilians, it’s not just a dry UN document that gets discussed in Turtle Bay; this is a document that reverberates throughout the Muslim world,” said Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith.

“It ultimately makes its way into rhetoric – by public officials, the media, extremist groups. It’s not an academic exercise; it comes back to bite us.”

The report chronicles allegations of Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinians in Gaza without provocation and accuses Israel of possible commission of crimes against humanity. It demands that Israel launch an internal investigation into the allegations and that Hamas investigate its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

In addition to posing various challenges to Israel, the report also produces a test of sorts for the United States, which recently joined the Human Rights Council in Geneva as part of the Obama administration’s effort to promote change in the much-criticized body.

Since its founding in 2006, the Human Rights Council has made the condemnation of Israel its central focus, with 26 of the 32 resolutions adopted by the body focused on the Jewish state.

The council’s debate on the Goldstone report at the end of this month doubtless will produce another resolution – plus opportunities for member states to condemn or defend Israel.

“That’ll be Sept. 29, the day after Yom Kippur, so people who care about Israel had better pray hard,” quipped Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, which is based in Geneva and is an accredited NGO at the Human Rights Council.

“Israel will be vilified,” Neuer said. “Israel will be compared to Nazi Germany. This is fuel for extremist elements.”

If the council adopts a resolution that refers the matter to the Security Council, that will further perpetuate talk of Israeli war crimes and represent yet another setback for Israel.

For Israel, the debate over the Gaza conflict is a distraction and an impediment to building a coalition for further sanctions or support for an eventual military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. It also hampers Israel in potential negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel refused to cooperate with the UN investigation from the start, claiming its mandate was inherently biased, and Israeli officials immediately sought to discredit the report after its release, noting that Israel already has serious investigations of its wartime conduct under way.

With the report’s call for the Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court if Israel does not act upon its recommendations within six months, the battle over the Gaza conflict has the potential to be a repeat of the public relations war over the West Bank security fence.

The subject of numerous condemnations in the UN General Assembly, the fence issue eventually was referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which ruled in an advisory opinion in July 2004 that the fence was illegal and infringed upon the rights of Palestinians. As with the Goldstone inquiry, Israel boycotted the process, arguing that the international court had no jurisdiction in the matter and that the proceedings were inherently biased.

This time, the issue is unlikely to reach an international court.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said it is the “strong view” of the United States that the report be considered only by the Human Rights Council, not the Security Council.

If it came to the Security Council, other veto-wielding members, such as Britain, also might vote against referring the matter to the International Criminal Court. Tasking the court with scrutinizing Israel’s wartime conduct in Gaza would set a problematic precedent for international scrutiny of other wars, such as those involving British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The New State Terrorism

Sunday, May 25th, 2003

Following the first Gulf War, which left Saddam Hussein in power, most everyone outside of Hussein and his fellow travelers in the Arab world acknowledged the necessity of imposing sanctions against a Hussein-led Iraq to force him to disarm. Unfortunately, although the sanctions were aimed at Hussein, it was undeniable that the sanctions would also visit great suffering on the Iraqi population, especially since Hussein could be expected to – and did – divert whatever resources were available to himself and the effort to maintain his power. Yet the world community, through the United Nations, went ahead with a drastic sanction regime turned out to be fruitless.

Although it seems clear that with the unseating of Hussein, the raison d’etre for the sanctions has been eliminated, France and Russia, whose surreptitious end-run financial dealings with Iraq doubtless doomed the sanction program, are now refusing to approve UN resolutions, canceling them unless the United States accede to their demands. As even The New York Times said in an editorial the other day:

Everyone understands that the main reason for international economic sanctions on Iraq vanished with the ouster of Saddam Hussein. The world no longer needs to worry about keeping Iraqi oil revenues out of the hands of an ambitious dictator intent on buying weapons. Instead, it should be seeking ways to increase that revenue as quickly as possible to rebuild a shattered country and improve the living standards of its people….

Administration officials can hardly relish returning to the Security Council, the scene of their embarrassing failure to win an endorsement for the war in Iraq. Countries on the other side of that fight, like France, Germany and Russia, should see this as the opportunity it is and not as a new occasion to gang up on Washington. Their first concern should be the interests of the Iraqi people.

However, there are those nations, led by France, that are not above sacrificing the needs of the desperate Iraqis in order to persist in their selfish political efforts to blunt American influence, begun in their opposition to Operation Iraqi freedom, and continuing in their mischief in the Security Council, where a new resolution would have to be adopted in order for sanctions to be canceled. As the Washington Post reported last week,

Russia, France and other key Security Council members set the stage…for a new battle over Iraq, signalling that the United States must give the United Nations a broader role in reconstruction efforts before sanctions can be lifted.

The need for “Old Europe” to confront the American colossus as equals, fed immeasurably by the spectacular demonstration of American military prowess in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the attendant global strategic gains in its aftermath, may be real to them and something students of “realpolitik” may appreciate. But from where we sit, we find it hard to distinguish their callousness from the outrages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-new-state-terrorism/2003/05/25/

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