Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not the UN's Finest Hour

The UN hasn't distinguished itself in any good ways in a long, long time and it certainly hasn't this week.

It may not be able to prevent a head of state like Ahmadinejad to attend, even though based on its charter it should have expelled Iran long ago, but it certainly doesn't have to greet him warmly.

Nor did the Mennonites distinguish themselves by honoring the madman at a dinner.

All this was followed by the Security Council doing its traditional best to undermine any hopes, already dismal, for an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This article about the sham session of the Security Council appeared in The Jerusalem Post.

'Settlements aren't the biggest problem'

During a Friday UN Security Council meeting called at the request of Arab states to deal with the sole issue of Israeli settlement-building in Palestinian territory, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Security Council to save the faltering Middle East peace process by demanding an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

[There is no "Palestinian territory," just disputed territory on which Israel has at least as much legal, moral and historical claim as the Palestinian Arabs. These exercises in Israel-bashing are an obstacle to peace.

The reality is that there is far more settlement activity by the Arabs than by the Israelis in the disputed territories. If there is to be a settlement freeze, then it should be an equitable freeze on all construction, Arab and Israeli, rather than just on Israeli construction.]

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reminded the Council that "just one year ago, there was no peace process," and noted that Israel and the Palestinians continue their negotiations, along with many other partners. She said US President George W. Bush had met with Abbas on Thursday, and that she would be meeting him later Friday.

[There still is no real peace process and cannot be until the Arabs finally decide they're interested in peace.]

Rice also noted that the recognized format for discussion of the Middle East peace process is the Quartet, the working partnership of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

"The Quartet is the proper forum for those negotiations," she pointedly told the council.

Abbas said that "A definite end must be put to settlement diplomacy."

[He's quite right; it's time for him to stop his "settlement diplomacy." He's the one waging "settlement diplomacy" - or, more accurately, "settlement warfare."

One sign that he's finally getting interested in peace will be when he stops whining about the presence of Israeli communities in the disputed territories and starts serious negotiations.]

Saudi Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the settlement problem is the "one issue that threatens to bring down the whole peace process."

[First there has to be a peace process. This whining about so-called settlements is a sideshow that prevents a peace process.]

He said that addressing it was the only way to save the peace deal brokered in Annapolis, Maryland, early this year by Bush Administration, with the goal of achieving a substantive peace accord by the end of 2008.

[What peace deal? There was no peace deal brokered at Annapolis.]

For months, the United States had successfully kept Palestinian issues out of the Security Council, giving room for private discussions between Israel and the Palestinians to work.

Friday's debate seemed to signal that time had run out for the quiet back-door talks favored by the Annapolis process.

[More accurately, it's just one more signal that the Arabs don't care about peace, or at least they don't care about any peace that would involve accepting the existence of Israel.]

Before the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that the United States and some other nations had objected to Friday's open debate, but that Washington had bowed to the inevitable and let the meeting take place.

Saud called on Israel to "cease all settlement activity including the issuance of permits."

Now the Bush administration is winding down into its final months before a new president is inaugurated in January, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has resigned in a corruption scandal. Olmert remains caretaker prime minister until his successor as head of the ruling Kadima party, Tzipi Livni, forms a coalition.

Amr Moussa, speaking for the Arab League, noted that "there are only three months left in the year 2008 and there is no sign" of a Palestinian state emerging.

[A third, or a third and fourth - one in Gaza and one between the Green Line and the Jordan River - will emerge alongside the existing Palestinian states of Jordan and Israel only when the Arabs decide they're interested in such a state or states.]

New Israeli UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev replied that a stranger visiting the UN might suppose from the debate that Hamas violence, missile attacks fired over Israel's border, the buildup of Hizbullah forces in Lebanon and Iran's nuclear ambitions posed no problem to the Mideast peace process.

"While settlements remain a delicate issue, they are not the principal one," she said.

[They're not even a minor one; they're just a diversion.]

"We in Israel are committed to a two-state solution," Shalev said. "We continue to negotiate with the Palestinian president."

[Unfortunately, the Palestinian Arabs have no commitment to a two-state — really a three- or four-state — solution.]

"Israel is prepared, if the conditions arrive, to make painful concessions" on the settlement issue. she said.

No comments: