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Security Council Expresses Hope for Middle East Peace. Israel, Arabs Spar in Monthly Debate

George Baumgarten, United Nations Correspondent, May 17, 2012

The monthly U.N. Security Council Debate on “The Situation in the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question” offered nothing unusual in the way of concrete results...nor was is expected to do so. What was just a bit unusual was the number of states—unrelated to the Middle East—who chose to express pronounced—and often vehement-- opinions . One wonders what motivates countries like Cuba, Venezuela and even North Korea(!) to express their opinions with such vitriol for the Jewish state. One can understand the Palestinians, who have (or think they have, or profess to have) long-standing grievances against Israeli “occupation” (A “condition” that never existed for the first 19 years of Israel’s existence). One can even understand the outlook of Syria, Lebanon (Syria’s “Hizbullah satellite” republic) or even Iran (which while Persian, not Arab, is at least a Middle Eastern country, only “three countries East” of Israel). What interest countries from South America and East Asia have in this issue, however, really leaves one to wonder...as to their motives, and the vehemence of their obvious hatred.
The monthly debate (some would say “charade”) always begins with a report on the situation by the Secretary-General, usually delivered by his Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B.Lynn Pascoe. Pascoe, an American career diplomat, most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to Jakarta (Indonesia) until appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2007. Certainly no enemy of either Israel or the Jewish people, he was friendly in his first two years in office with Israel Ambassador Dan Gillerman (Pascoe will be leaving office in about two months, to be replaced by a successor not yet named.).
Pascoe began by stressing that we are at a “pivotal point” in Syria (keeping in mind that his report was on the whole Middle East, not just the situation between Israel and the Palestinians). He then spoke of peace efforts by the Middle East “Quartet” (U.S., U.N., Russia, European Union), and attempts to get the Israelis and Palestinians to meet.  The Palestinians had sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and he indicated that he intended to respond in writing (Since that exchange, the Palestinians have rejected the Israeli response, out of hand.). Pascoe told the Council that the Quartet “…recognized the urgent need for tangible signs of progress on the ground”. He also mentioned the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, an issue that has since flared into prominence, but has been settled in just the last few days. Pascoe also referred to the situation in Lebanon, not directly related to this article. He mentioned some other Israeli actions such as evictions, etc. , but that is a topic for a separate article entirely.
 Abdou Salam Diallo is Ambassador of Senegal, and Chair of the “Committee on the Exercise if the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” (A chairmanship long reserved for the Senegalese Ambassador, whomever he or she may be. Senegal is a country otherwise very friendly to Israel, as are nearly all of the Sub-Saharan African republics.). He presented the “party line” of Israeli settlements as the cause of the stalemate in the peace talks, and predicted a “rude awakening” for all those who ignore the Palestinian situation.
Riyad Mansour is the “Ambassador/Observer” of the Palestinian Authority, and has been so, for over ten years now. Mansour almost invariably speaks in repetitive, standard lines, from which he rarely deviates. The settlements are the problem, Israel is engaging in “…assaults on the rights, land and very existence of the Palestinian people…”. “Belief in the two-state solution”, he tells us, “is particularly diminishing as Israel continues its illegal settlement activities…”. Same words, same lines, nearly every month. One wonders if he even bothers redrafting…
Ron Prosor has been Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations for nearly a year. A highly experienced career diplomat, he has served as Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and most recently as her Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s (i.e., the U.K.). He has recently made a particular point of speaking out with increasing emphasis, against all those who defame the Jewish state, or who twist the truth of its actions. In this speech, he sought to particularly debunk three “persistent” myths about Israel, and its situation vis-à-vis the Palestinians:
1)      The Israel-Palestine conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. Solve it, and it will lead to peace everywhere. In point of fact, all the other Middle East problems have little or nothing to do with Israel.
2)      There is a “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza strip. This is false, and many international organizations have said so. Ambassador Mansour once told us that “the closure of border crossings (which Israel is doing much less than before) should be regarded as a war crime”. I asked him what—pray tell--he called the firing of rockets into people’s living rooms?! As I recall, he stammered an inadequate “stock” response.
3)      Settlements are the primary obstacle to peace. Prosor noted that this is just an excuse: Palestinian intransigence and the so-called “claim of return” are the primary obstacles to peace.
 
Prosor’s text came to nearly six pages. But it could well be summarized as above…and he was not afraid to say so, to the Security Council.
Gert Rosenthal is Ambassador of Guatemala (serving its first-ever term on the Security Council), and—as far as is known—is the only non-Israeli Jewish Permanent Representative (There is at least one Jewish Deputy Permanent Representative, Saul Weisleder of Costa Rica.). He will be President of the Council in the month of October.   He only mentioned in passing “...the oft-postponed Palestinian People’s demand for a homeland…”. But he especially noted the danger of “the possible incursion of weapons of mass destruction” into the Middle East.
This is not the place to needlessly bore my  readers with endless recitations of political vitriol, and thereby needlessly prolong this article. Venezuela’s Jorge Valero (A fine Hispanic gentlemen, who has promised to keep abreast of the investigation of the firebombing of the Sephardic synagogue in Caracas) went so far as to describe “…the abusive us
 
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