By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke by video to the UN Security Council's 15 Permanent Representatives, meeting behind closed doors, the PRs of the UK and Russia both said that Ban was not optimistic.
UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, filmed here on Periscope by Inner City Press, said, “All 15 Permanent Representatives were there, which is a rarity in my time here. We were struck by the pessimist tone that he gave us. He insisted quite rightly that violence must be condemned... We have the ministerial debate in the Security Council tomorrow to take forward our work.”
Russia's Vitaly Churkin told reporters that Ban was not optimistic, the situation continues to be very complicated. There is this trip of the senior officials of the Quartet which was postponed, maybe we should try to do it as quickly as possible. We're trying to engineer a ministerial meeting of the Quartet within the next few days.”
Security Council ministerial debate, Quartet ministerial meeting, Ban Ki-moon's deep concern: where is it all headed?
When the State of Palestine's Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour came to the Security Council stakeout on October 21, it was to denounce the exhibit Israel's new Permanent Representative Danny Danon had displayed on an tripod easel outside the Security Council five days earlier on October 16. Inner City Press asked Mansour for a progress report on his proposal for an international protection presence and Mansour gave two answers.
First, he said, Israel has abrogated its duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention to itself offer protection in the Occupied Territories, quite the contrary. Second, Mansour said, there is the Responsibility to Protect. Video here.
Four hours later, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to brief the Security Council by video from Ramallah, but only behind closed doors. As Inner City Press asked Mansour, Ban is next slated to travel to Amman. Will that be about an international protection force? Watch this site.
On October 16 before the emergency Palestine meeting of the UN Security Council, requested by Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, began, Israel's new Permanent Representative to the UN Danny Danon came to address the press at the stakeout, with a tripod easel like his predecessor Ron Prosor.
Inner City Press broadcast the easel via Periscope, and asked Danon about what's said in the Security Council about an expanded Quartet helping the situation. Danon replied that the solution is direct negotiations, with no preconditions.
Before Inner City Press' question, the Israeli Mission called on the New York Post's columnist, but another reporter was able to pose his question, complete with counter-prop, a photo on an i-Pad. (Inner City Press broadcast this too on Periscope.) The Israeli Mission, unlike some others, didn't try to insist that the question had to go to the journalist they'd chosen: the Free UN Coalition for Access favors this allowing of some openness in stakeout, unlike the censoring control asserted by, for example, UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous and some missions.
Danon, it emerges, did not speak inside the Security Council; he has yet to hand his credentials to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (who is, once again, traveling, this time in Italy); he said he will do so on Wednesday of next week.
Outside the Security Council at the stakeout Danon said, “Whoever avoids direct negotiations is looking for an escape hatch, and Abbas’s favorite kind of escape, is to spread slanderous lies about the situation on the Temple Mount, especially about the status quo. However, only 2 weeks ago Prime Minister Netanyahu stood here at the UN and repeated his commitment once again to maintaining the status quo. Let me make it clear. Israel will not agree to any international presence on the Temple Mount. Any such intervention would violate the decades long status quo.”
After the speeches in the Council Chamber, Inner City Press asked Palestine's Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour about an international protection presence. He replied that back in 1994 in UNSC Resolution 904, some 37 Scandinavian observers were deployed and remain in Hebron, so why not now? Why not indeed.
Jordan's Dina Kawar seemed to say that such an international force is not envisioned at this point. Oman's representative, as head of the Arab Group, said work would continue. One wanted to ask her also about Oman's work on the conflict in Yemen, but it was not the time.
Using the easel that he brought, Danon said, “On Monday, a Palestinian boy attacked an Israeli boy who was riding his bike, stabbing him no less than 15 times. Let me repeat: 15 times! The victim is still hospitalized in critical condition. Ask yourselves, why would a 13-year-old boy decide to go on a stabbing spree and try to take another boy’s life? The answer is that such acts of terror do not occur in a vacuum. When a Palestinian child turns on a TV, he doesn’t see Barney or Donald Duck, he sees murderers portrayed as heroes. When he opens a textbook, he doesn’t learn about math and science, he’s being taught to hate.”
Then Danon unveiled a picture or cartoon, knives at a body, widely photographed.
“This picture you see here is an example of the kind of messages that Palestinian children are being exposed to day in and day out. The picture gives children elaborate instructions on how to stab a Jew. We talk about a lot about incitement- here you see what Palestinian incitement looks like. This picture is what is being taught in middle schools! Instead of educating about peace and tolerance, the Palestinian leadership is brainwashing children with incitement and hate,” Danon continued.
The UN itself denounced social media, and got asked about its own, or UNRWA staff's, use of social media; UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN reviews even its staff's retweets. Really? We'll have more on this.