Archive for the ‘United Nations’ Category

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Targeting Israel? In an address to American Jewish Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US is firmly behind Israel when it is threatened by Iran and Syria:

Clinton told the group that Israel is "confronting some of the toughest challenges in her history," particularly from Iran, Syria and groups they support like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and reaffirmed US determination to get them to change course.

"Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel," she said.

(Ynet)

Clinton also defended Obama’s decision to send an envoy to Syria, saying it would give the United States additional leverage against the Syrians:

"President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region," she said. "We know he’s hearing from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the potential consequences of his actions are clear."

WHILE CLINTON’S ORATORY is sound with the Administration, it is likely that the Syrians won’t go down easily. While Assad allows Charles Hunter to stay in Damascus, a way from there to accepting pressure coming from the Americans is far off. Clinton’s optimism should be admired; Obama’s plans for Syrian envoy go far beyond simple Israel-related pressure, however.

It is all the more apparent when the Americans are willing to put Israel under much more pressure, promising Palestinians that Obama might abandon his UN veto right in case of condemnation of Israel in the Security Council:

[George Mitchell’s deputy, David] Hale reportedly promised Abbas that the U.S. would consider allowing a Security Council condemnation should such activity continue at a significant level – though he did not clarify what the Obama administration considered significant.

This assurance would mean a U.S. abstention on any resolution, rather than a veto, said The Guardian.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat flatly denied the report. It’s not true," Erekat said. "We are still talking to the Americans."

Meanwhile, senior Israeli officials told Haaretz on Thursday that Obama told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace.

(Haaretz)

Such rumors are spread both to give Palestinians “much-needed hope” and to pressure the Israelis into concessions, as Netanyahu would feel threatened by possible condemnation by the SC.

Obama, however, has limited options vis-a-vis the Israelis. Many Congressmen already declared their support for Israel, and on several occasions sent mass-signed letters to Obama advising him to reconsider his stance on Israel. If Obama would indeed allow Israel to be condemned by the Security Council – as opposed to the General Assembly – he would reach a new step of negativity towards the Jewish state, undoubtedly causing much friction even within his own Democratic party. Thus both Obama and Clinton understand they should proceed carefully. While Hale probably did tell Abbas his bosses might consider vetoing the veto, Palestinian denials come on the heels of an understanding that such a step would cause much distress to the Administration, thus they would prefer to keep this proposition under the radar.

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Nasrallah's shields? UNIFIL soldiers in Lebanon According to certain news reports, Iran, Syria and Hizballah actively prepare for an confrontation with Israel, as early as this summer:

As DEBKAfile’s military sources reported last week, Syrian instructors have trained two Hizballah brigades in the use of mobile Scud missiles which carry one-ton warheads. It does not matter if those missiles are moved physically across the border to Lebanon, because those brigades can operate them against Israel at short notice from either side of the border.

Our Washington sources report that Syrian president Bashar Assad, under heavy pressure from Washington to keep the Scuds out of Hizballah’s hands, explained to the Obama administration through diplomatic channels that as long as they were kept inside Syria, the Scuds must be seen as a defensive and deterrent weapon against a possible Israeli attack onLebanon and Syria. He thus placed on Israel the onus for any future outbreak of hostilities.

(DebkaFile)

THESE DEVELOPMENTS DEFINITELY worry Israeli officials, despite the attempts to keep a straight face. According to the military, there is a connection between Nasrallah’s recent anti-Israel rhetoric and the acquisition of Scud A ground-to-ground missiles.

As IDF braces for fight, Lebanese authorities better take notice: another war with Israel means another economic and political setback.

This time, however, Nasrallah plans to play the same game with different rules. Unlike the 2006, today the Lebanese Armed Forces and the UNIFIL are both present in South Lebanon. Even if HizbAllah’s provocation triggers armed Israeli response, the UN forces and Lebanese soldiers could be accidentally attacked, thus damaging Israel’s political stance and renewing demands for it to halt the operation. Nasrallah certainly counts on putting the Lebanese military and international UN force as shields between himself and the Israelis.

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad keeps supplying newswires with healthy dose of humorous headlines, this time decrying UN’s Security Council and the right of veto held by several of its members:

Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, said the power of veto held by the United States, China, Britain, France and Russia was aimed at "oppressing and destroying the true nature of mankind and are satanic tools", ISNA said.

His comments came amid escalating tension in the Islamic Republic’s long-running dispute with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program, with the United States pushing for new UN sanctions against the major oil producer.

Washington and its allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity.

(Haaretz)

NOW, I WISH I could comment here. I really would. But… None could be said that was not said before by someone wiser than me.

European Union's Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana

IT IS SAD to see the downfall of certain public figures. It is true, EU’s Solana never was particularly strong or fair person, but he did earn certain degree of respect for his work. Going through several high-ranking positions (including that of Secretary General for NATO), he is one of the best-known officials in Europe. His name constantly pops up in newspapers and in websites; his face is familiar to many.

Yet, some would say he is a desperate man – desperate for attention, that is. To some extend, they might be correct. Latest stunt pulled by the High Representative for EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy panel would hardly earn him respect in understanding circles. Solana proposed the UN to set a deadline, after which it would officially recognize the Palestinian state, even if no agreement is reached between the newly-established entity and Israel. Solana suggested that the United Nations  would "proclaim the adoption of the two-state solution". He also said that such ‘proclamation’ would include decisions on borders, status of Jerusalem, security and Palestinian refugees. Palestine would be accepted as full-fledged member of the UN, placing additional leverage on Palestinians, as well as the Israelis.

Recognition of Palestine would serve several purposes: first and foremost, Israel would be left out of deciding on nature of Palestine. You might remember Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state. However, if recognized by the international community, it would be up to it – not Netanyahu and Abbas – to decide on nature of such state. The UN is not likely to see Israel’s security needs as first priority, and would be more likely to impose – at least in writing – establishment of Palestine, with the power to sign defense treaties with Syria and Iran. Moreover, the UN – not Israelis and Palestinians at the negotiation table – would decide on Israel’s borders – again, Israel’s needs would likely be sacrificed to the new entity. Let’s not forget, that UN is now populated mostly by anti-Western states, who could be expected to side with the Palestinians. With all honesty, we could say that only two states would take Israel’s side – the United States (who, in spite of differences, would not risk destruction of the Jewish state) and Micronesia. 190 other states will either abstain or proclaim such step a "victory for democracy". Swell.

Secondly, Solana’s solution would inflict certain pressure on Palestinians. "You are now part of the modern world. You have to play by the rules". But then, again, with the UN’s largely pro-Palestinian agenda, such pressure would be all but considerable.

The there’s the issue of internal Palestinian struggles. No one yet speaks of it, but it might as well be said out loud – currently, there is a clear possibility of two Palestines – Palestine One and Palestine Two. That is, one in West Bank, controlled by Mahmoud Abbas’ FATAH party – mostly secular, somewhat West-inclined – and one in Gaza, run by HAMAS, fanatical, dangerous and a terror-breeding ground in Israel’s and Egypt’s back yard. Hopefully, he realized it the instant he said it: at this moment, Solana’s solution is as irrelevant as last years’ snow. Without certain unity within Palestinians themselves, enforcing establishment of Palestine would just as likely lead to massacres and infighting – comparable (but probably much worse) to armed struggle between HAMAS and FATAH in Gaza, which left hundreds of dead and wounded on the streets. HAMAS has little incentive to fight FATAH now outside Gaza; establishment of the state and rule of it would introduce motivation for Ismail Haniyeh’s terrorists. Don’t forget – the new state, backed by dozens of nations worldwide, will likely bring vast injection of cash straight into Palestine’s bloodstream.

Lastly, let us paint the scenario: on October 22, 2015, United Nations proclaims establishment of Palestinian state. According to the accepted scenario (with softening touches by US, France and Britain), Palestine’s borders mostly adjoin the 1967 armistice line. Jerusalem, the UN states, should be under international control – no one would risk the efforts to remove the Muslim Waqf’s control of the Temple Mount, though. FATAH being in control of the West Bank, its leader – still, likely, Mahmoud Abbas – declares himself the President, officially welcoming hundreds of thousands of new citizens – Jewish settlers that is (in Arabic, however, his aides would call on struggle against the "occupants" and "pigs").

Immediately, HAMAS’ activists in West Bank organize riots, protesting FATAH’s move, with former renewing armed campaign to eradicate and expel and FATAH members from Gaza. No doubt, Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal would immediately welcome interviews with international media, decrying UN’s favoritism of FATAH.

See where I’m going here? Those are likely to be the first days after Solana’s plan goes from paper to reality. Bloody war would follow.

Maybe the critics are correct. Responsible consideration of facts might not be Solana’s strongest point.

1239221088richard_goldstone_judge_gaza

UN COMMIITTEE, INVESTIGATING Israel’s operation Cast Lead in Gaza, heard testimonials from several Israelis, including victims, father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and mayor of city of Ashkelon. As with previous such hearing in Gaza, Goldstone’s mission listened to Israeli victims of Gazans’ terror, including several low-level officials. Israel’s government previously refused to cooperate with the panel, citing its previous experience with UN’s investigations (most notably, Terje Roed-Larsen’s fact-finding mission into Jenin battle of 2002).

One of most significant speakers was Dr. Mirella Sidrer, whose clinic was hit by a Qassam rocket, with her and her patient sustaining serious wound:

"I felt like a ball of fire was spinning inside me, all my teeth flew out. To this day I still have a 4cm sliver of shrapnel in the left side of my back next to my spinal chord, and it can’t be removed”.

Another speaker at the forum was the father of captive Israeli soldier – Noam Shalit. Shalit told investigators release of his son would likely lead to lift of the blockade and spoke to Gazan citizens:

“Don’t do this for any kind of profit, do it because it is the right thing to do, do it for the welfare of your people… Do not ignore the circumstances of my son’s military service," continued Shalit. "He wasn’t attacking your land – he wasn’t even on your land. He was in Israel’s sovereign territory, defending what was supposed to be a peaceful borderline.”

It seemed that the members of the panel sympathized with Shalit, with Pakistani Hina Jilani saying:

"I speak for all of us when I say we are sympathetic to your pain and to the hard times you and your family have been through." … "Anyone using human suffering as a tool to push an agenda is wrong. I was very impressed by your distinguished testimony."

 

GOLDSTONE’S TEAM APPEARS to reflect objectivity – listening to both sides, fair and straight. Israeli officials, however, are correct – Israel has much experience in UN’s fact-finding missions. During aforementioned investigative mission to Jenin, Terje Roed-Larsen was terrified by the destruction of the refugee camp, telling the tales of much destruction, saying it was "horrific beyond belief", fully disregarding attacks by Jenin terrorists against Israeli civilians. Goldstone’s mission is likely to suffer another Palestinian disease – constant watchful eye of guards, keeping track of what civilians tell UN’s emissaries. As in Jenin 2002, several reports indicate Goldstone’s meeting with Gazan civilians were almost always attended by HAMAS officials and/or armed men. Obviously portrayed as protection for the peacekeepers, HAMAS activists looked straight in the eye to each Gaza man or woman speaking to UN’s representatives.

It is still to be seen if the mission would be able to look beyond people’s biases. Gazans, trained since childhood to hate Jews, and trained by HAMAS to exaggerate stories, might inadvertently twist facts in order to gain sympathy with the team. Israeli civilians, feeling deep resentment for the UN might not arrive at all, and those who would, would probably affected by biases of their own. UN investigators would also have to look at the infrastructure: relatively lack of Israeli civilian casualties is the direct result of Israeli government constructing fortified bunkers, where civilians could hide in case of an attack. HAMAS and FATAH lead governments never spent any resources on such construction besides, maybe, themselves. Also, it is unlikely tales of HAMAS operatives using civil infrastructure would be heard by the team from Gazans themselves.

It is logical to conclude that it is unlikely Goldstone’s team would reach unbiased conclusions – although it might be one of the very first UN teams to blast both Israel and HAMAS for use of violence. The investigators are unlikely to go back into history, researching how Israel’s 2005 disengagement lead to violent HAMAS takeover and subsequent attacks by Gazan – not necessarily HAMAS – terrorists on Israel. They would probably stay in recent past and the present – HAMAS was bad for firing rockets, Israel was very bad for killing so many people. HAMAS should stop violence. Israel should lift the blockade, stop attacks, allow trade with Gaza through Israel, pay damages and supply everything Gazans need.

Last, but not least, is UN’s pledge of impartiality. While blame would be put on both sides (Israel would get the most, though), Goldstone would still attempt to stay off judgment – at least Gaza-wise. The conclusions will not reach far beyond general assumptions and calls for normalization. There would be no comprehensive plan or idea to end the violence  – after all, they are here to recover the past, not build a future. Thus, it is safe to assume Israel would be correct in not cooperating with UN’s investigators, at the very least because the mission would end up nowhere.

It does not mean, though, that Israel should ignore the findings. Some bad things happened in Gaza, and IDF soldiers – on deliberately or not – were responsible to some of them. It would be difficult to discern real testimonies from HAMAS propaganda, it should be done by Israeli analysts. IDF’s mission should be constantly improving itself, causing as few casualties as possible in any upcoming large-scale operation. Goldstone’s mission might be a good ground to start.

HAMAS gunmen resting in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS’ INVESTIGATIVE commission to Gaza will open public hearings for the victims of Israeli operation Cast Lead. The United Nations in Geneva released a statement, according to which such hearings will

“…enable victims from all sides in the conflict and experts on its consequences and impacts to speak directly to the international community of their experiences.”

Swell. We obviously can’t wait for opening of public hearings in Sderot and Ashkelon. Should we bear hope?

The hearings will be held at UN HQ in Gaza on July 6 and 7. Being public, UN hopes such hearings would bring up testimonies from people whom investigators could not have heard otherwise. You should actually read it as: Goldstone’s mission will be wide open to hear all tales of IDF murdering innocent civilians by HAMAS provocateurs and liars. While honest people will certainly be there, the terror group would not pass on an opportunity to add sour flavor to the eyewitness accounts. Moreover, it is unlikely Gazans would be allowed to relate HAMAS’ actions against its own population, as Haniyeh’s men will certainly keep observant of the inquiry.

And they are certainly doing a good job, at least media-wise. Associated Press reports on civilians recounting alleged Israel’s strikes, with no prior warnings:

"We were shocked when we heard the loud noise coming from the Israeli shelling, then one of the missiles landed on top of us. There were 11 people killed," he said.

"My legs were cut off, and then I looked and saw my father and my family. Most of them had been killed. The children were screaming."

I am not denying such attacks took place, and investigation should be launched into IDF’s conduct. However, United Nations is not a body capable of impartiality. Would Goldstone and his team put such stories in context of HAMAS terrorists possibly operating nearby? Would they be willing to view IDF tapes – available to the public – of terror fighters firing from within Gaza’s residential areas into Israeli residential areas?

Would Goldstone take into account that the sole reason for few Israeli casualties from Qassam rockets is the fact that Israelis spent millions into building rocket shelters? That in the city of Sderot every bus stop is a small bomb shelter? Would he criticize HAMAS for not creating such infrastructure, which could save hundreds of lives, while themselves hiding under a hospital? Very unlikely.

 

IN THE MEANWHILE, Khaled Mashaal – the peaceful dove that he is – outright rejected Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal for a Palestinian state, calling the idea “pathetic”. Mashaal, in his statement Thursday, said his terror group disagrees with Netanyahu on, basically, every point he had made:

"The Palestinian people reject the Israeli position on a demilitarized state, on the refugees, on Jerusalem, and on the Jewish state.”

Mashaal also reminded many, that his group would not be at peace with a Jewish state, saying that recognizing Israel as one

"…would erase the right of return to lands taken in 1948."

Mashaal’s words were always quite transparent: he is clear on a notion that while his organization would accept creation of a Palestinian state outside of Israel’s 1967 borders, they would not accept a Jewish state. HAMAS officials – and many from FATAH, Mahmoud Abbas’ group – believe Israel exists illegally, and all territory should belong to the Palestinians, thus shilling for two states for one people concept – Palestine, the state for the Palestinians, and Israel – a democratic state with Palestinian majority.

Sadly, this statement would elude most Americans, Europeans and radical Left-wing activists, supporting talks with HAMAS.

UN’s Ban says Israel should be fined $11 mln.

Posted: June 17, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel, United Nations

You’ve heard it right – Useless Nations’ SecGen Ban Ki Moon said today that Israel should repay the UN for destruction of its facilities in Gaza with sum totaling USD 11 million. Ban said the fine was a recommendation by a UN investigative committee.

Fortunately for the UN, it has no committees investigating UNRWA’s involvement in terror activities, otherwise it is likely UN would run out of funds.