Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Palestinian UN envoy slams adoption of Israeli resolution

The Palestinian Arab representative to the United Nations who expressed outrage at the possibility that Africans might be saved from starvation because of help from Israel is part of the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority ruling the West Bank.

Not a single Arab state, including the two formally at peace with Israel, could bring itself to vote for a resolution proposed by Israel.

Excerpted from Haaretz.

Israel, often pilloried in the United Nations, claimed an unprecedented diplomatic triumph on Tuesday when a resolution it had drafted, on farm technology rather than Arab-Iraeli issues, was approved by a UN committee. However the decision was blasted by the UN's Palestinian envoy, Riyad Mansour.

Mansour said Israel was "trying to score political points" and had rejected a move by others in the committee to have the motion presented by the chair as a consensus resolution.

He said the Israeli action only emphasized "the divisions between Israel and the Arab countries," in contrast to the spirit of the recent peace conference at Annapolis.

Israel's UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman hailed the decision as historic. "It is the very first time that Israel initiates and authors and submits a resolution which has nothing to do with the (Arab-Israeli) conflict," Gillerman said.

The resolution passed the General Assembly's Second Committee, dealing with development issues, with 118 votes in favor, none against and 29 abstentions, according to UN figures. It will go before the full assembly next week.

The resolution calls on developed countries to make their agricultural technology know-how - an area where Israel has expertise - more available to the developing world.

Israel is more used to resolutions criticizing its actions in the Middle East being passed by various UN bodies, especially the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

"It is not easy for Israel to have its resolutions and its points of view adopted," Gillerman said.

Countries that abstained on Tuesday included all 19 Arab states present, although Muslim Afghanistan and Pakistan voted in favor. Iran, Israel's fiercest critic at the world body, did not take part.

Gillerman criticized South Africa, one of several African countries to abstain. The abstention was "a shameful mistake for a country that considers itself to be the leader of Africa," he said.

It took Israel six months to negotiate the text of the resolution, which calls on developed countries to make their agricultural technology more accessible to developing nations in order to fight poverty.

The UN has set the goal of halving the number of poor by 2015, as one of the targets of the "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs). The other goals deal with education, child and maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS.

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