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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘WEOG’

At Long Last, Israel to Have Regional Home Group at UN

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Israel has long been a nation without a home at the United Nations.  The UN member states are divided up into regions, with committee membership and plum assignments being meted out according to those regions.

Israel, located as it is in the Middle East, geographically falls within the Asian group; that is where every one of its neighbors sits.  But the Islamic countries which constitute the majority of the Asian regional group would not abide having Israel as a member of its group.

The UN accepted this refusal.

That is why Israel has sort of been rotating about in a nether universe, not really in one group, and not really in another. In 2000, Israel became a member of the West European and Others Group (WEOG) but only as a limited member – only in New York, but not in Geneva, where much of the UN official work takes place.

But this week it became official. More than 60 years after becoming a member of the United Nations, Israel will officially join a regional group, with all the rights and privileges of such membership.  Israel will be officially in the West European and Others Group (WEOG) – in Geneva as well as in New York – as of January 1, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated in a press release issued on Dec. 2, that Israeli membership in WEOG in Geneva was “long overdue.” His statement continued:

It goes without saying that at a time when the scourge of global anti-semitism is on the rise, it is more important than ever for Israel to have a strong voice that can be heard everywhere. This is a particularly welcome development as we work to end anti-Israel bias in the UN system. We will continue to speak out for our close ally, Israel, and we will continue to support efforts to normalize Israel’s treatment across the UN system as a full and equal member of the community of nations.

No word on why Islamic member nations of the UN have been permitted to bar Israel, a geographic neighbor, from membership in a regional group, or how that comports with the UN Charter.

Israel Caves on its UN Human Rights Council Boycott

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

It took less than a year and a half, but Israel has backed down from its position of refusing to submit its neck for the certain sharpened knife to fall: the Jewish State announced through its prime minister that it will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council and will allow that much- and justly-maligned body pronounce on its human rights record as part of the Universal Periodic Review for all member nations.

The UPR was created by the same UN General Assembly resolution in March, 2006, which created the Human Rights Council. Through the UPR, each member state declares what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their own countries, and how they fulfil their human rights obligations. Of course, as far as the UN HRC and most of its member states is concerned, the process is designed to “ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.”

Except, of course, when it comes to Israel.

In March, 2012, Israel withdrew its participation from the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of human rights records of member states because it had habitually been singled out for unfair and utterly unbalanced review of its behavior, while its enemies have been treated with kid gloves despite years of relentless state-sponsored and state-supported terrorism against the Jewish State.

But after repeated public and relentless behind the scenes pressure, the boycott has ended.

That pressure included haranguing, vengeful floor statements at a meeting of the HRC on June 7, 2013, by representatives of many members states, including that of the United States, that Israel must cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. There have also been reports of extra-body communications, such as a strongly worded communique directly from Germany warning of a dire diplomatic backlash unless Israel return to the fold.

And so, Israel indeed folded.

The statements by members at that June 7 meeting were remarkable given the human rights violators who had the temerity to insist that Israel bow its head before the HRC.

First, in an official statement, “Palestine” said it appreciated the efforts of the president of the HRC to “protect the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the integrity of the Human Rights Council in the face of the unprecedented non-cooperation and non-compliance of Israel.” Palestine urged Israel to cooperate with the Human Rights Council and said that an exchange of letters was not sufficient to count as engagement. Palestine said it regarded the Universal Periodic Review deadline set by the President as final and binding.

And that universal supporter of human rights and all things good and fair, Cuba, condemned Israel for boycotting the Universal Periodic Review, and said that “the attitude of Israel was deplorable and unacceptable.”

Tunisia, as was the case with most of the Arab and Muslim groups, could not even bring itself to mention the name of the Jewish State, and instead merely “regretted the continuing attitude of the country under review,” referring to that state as engaging in “persistent non-cooperation.”  As far as Tunisia was concerned, the HRC should no longer even negotiate with the recalcitrant state.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Algeria claimed that its group was committed to the Universal Periodic Review’s “transparency, objectivity, equal treatment and non-selectivity.” The Arab Group also stated that the (unnamed) non-cooperating entity’s behavior was unacceptable, and stressed the importance of protecting the credibility of the HRC.

Pakistan, representing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, charged Israel’s “persistent non-compliance” as a “serious breach of United Nations system expectations” and it too suggested that the UPR should go ahead as planned whether or not Israel chose to be present.

Israel’s announcement that it would participate in its review at the seventeenth session of the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review, came less than 48 hours before that process is to begin, on Tuesday, October 29, in Geneva.

Israel is still prevented from joining the Human Rights Council because it is denied a place in any regional group of nations, and the geographic groups are the entities from which HRC members are selected.  Given its location, Israel should be a part of the Asian Nations Group, as are its neighboring states. But Israel is barred from belonging to that group because the Arab nations within that bloc oppose Israel’s membership.

Israel Seeks UN Security Council Seat; Will Power Proffer Power?

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Late last week the Jewish State publicly announced that it plans to run for one of the ten rotating positions on the Security Council of the United Nations for the 2019-2020 year. Virtually everyone agrees it will be a tough battle for Israel to land a seat on the Security Council, but this year Israel has a special weapon it has not had in the past: US power. Or, more accurately, U. S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

This past July, when Power appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her vetting in advance of being appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) bluntly asked Power whether she would assist Israel if the Jewish State seeks to fill one of the ten rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council.

“Absolutely, sir,” Power responded. “The Security Council seat is one that has eluded Israel, despite its many contributions across the years, and I commit to you wholeheartedly to go on offense, as well as playing defense on the legitimation of Israel, and we’ll make every effort to secure greater integration of Israeli public servants in the U.N. system.”

Now for a little background information: in order to win one of those ten rotating seats, two-thirds of the 193 member states of the U.N. General Assembly must vote to support a country’s bid.  In the 64 plus years during which Israel has been a member state of the U.N., it has never been approved for a seat on the U.N.’s Security Council.

Israel never has, but every one of its’ neighbors has had a seat on the Security Council several times: Egypt, four times; Jordan, twice; Syria, three times and Lebanon, twice.  Even Iraq and Iran have been voted on to the Security Council. But not Israel.

The Security Council can make policy decisions which have binding authority.  It can impose sanctions or authorize the use of the military. In contrast, the General Assembly can only pass resolutions, which are non-binding statements.

The ten rotating spots for the Security Council are chosen from within the five regional groups into which the U.N. is divided: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean, and the Western Europe and Others group (WEOG).

Although geographically – which is exactly how the groups are organized – Israel would naturally fall within the Asia Pacific group.  But the Islamic countries refused to permit Israel to be a member of that group. Sounds impossible, or at least impermissible, but it is what happened. And it was permitted.

So for years Israel was a U.N. member nation without a regional group home.  This meant that it was unable to participate in certain U.N. activities, one of which was being considered for a position on the Security Council.  But in 2000 the semi-magnanimous members of the WEOG permitted Israel to become a partial member of their regional group.

And then, in 2004, Israel was made a permanent member of WEOG. With that decision, after 55 years as a U.N. vagabond nation, Israel had a home in a regional group and became eligible for a seat on the Security Council. Israel will be running against Germany and Belgium for two seats available to members of WEOG.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor said that “We’re going all out to win” because “it’s about time.” But going “all out” may not be enough, given that 120 of the U.N.’s 193 member states belong to the “Non-Aligned Movement,” the vast majority of which are decidedly hostile to Israel.

All eyes should be on Power to see how she plays offense – and defense – on behalf of Israel. As promised.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-seeks-un-security-council-seat-will-power-proffer-power/2013/10/07/

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