Issue 337: Pressed by Media, Evasive UN Pledges to Answer UN Watch Challenge on Labeling Gaza “Occupied”

As shown in the video and transcript below, the spokesman of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was asked by journalists on Friday to respond to UN Watch’s challenge as to why the world body continues to label the Gaza Strip “occupied” by Israel, despite a Hamas leader last week stating the opposite.

After initially seeking to dodge the question, the spokesman promised the UN would look into it and respond. We’re waiting.

Over the past week, UN Watch created an international buzz on the story with op-eds placed in Canada’s National Post and the Jerusalem Post, which in turn were featured in the Mideast Mirror, the PLO-linkedAmerican Task Force on Palestine, the Daily Alert and Jewish Ideas Daily.


Transcript of UN daily press briefing, Jan. 6, 2012, with Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Journalist #1: I have a report which I got this morning, apparently it came out yesterday from UN Watch in Geneva, which quotes one of the senior officials of Hamas saying that the Gaza Strip, specifically the Gaza Strip only, is no longer Israeli-occupied territory and it refers, however, to some comments that Farhan made when he must have been doing the daily briefing two and a half or three years ago, saying that it is still the UN policy that the Gaza Strip is part of the Israel-occupied territory.

And a 22 September 2011 report put out by the Office of the Secretary-General speaks of a UN mission’s visit to the “Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifically the Gaza Strip”. Do you have any comment on that, or does the UN still seriously believe that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory?

UN Spokesperson: I think we can discuss this after. I don’t think I am going to get into a long back-and-forth on this right now. But I will certainly speak to you afterwards about it. Yes, okay. Yes?

Journalist #2: Can we get someone in to brief about that from the UN, Martin? It would be very helpful as this whole Palestinian statehood issue is being reviewed and things like that…

UN: I’ll ask.

Journalist #2: …because it has come up in the past and there should be some UN clarification about the UN position on it. And it has been historically the UN saying it is occupied territory; my understanding is because the Israelis control the border crossing; I don’t know.

UN Spokesperson: I’ll ask. I am sure there is a fairly clear response to it. I need to check, and then I’ll come back to you. All right, okay, have a good afternoon. Thanks very much.


Arab League Poll Choices: Good, Very Good, Excellent

The Arab League’s human rights monitoring mission in Syria is seen as a sick joke by the victims on the ground. Protesters across Syria, reports Al Jazeera, are calling for it to end.

The mission is headed by Sudanese General Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, whose primary expertise on human rights abuses lies in committing them on a mass scale.

As the Telegraph reports in detail, General al-Dabi visited the city of Homs and reported seeing no tanks, even as a video shows the monitors standing next to a tank. The general also tells Syrian victims to believe in “dialogue.”

You may ask: What does the Arab League know about democracy, and about making independent, critical evaluations?

Well, a glance at its Internet home page is revealing.

On the bottom left of the page, the Arab League features a poll asking visitors to vote on how they like the new Website.  Here are the choices:

1. “Excellent”
2. “Very Good”
3. “Good”

There are no choices offered of 1. Boring; 2. Ancien Regime Spin; or
3. Has Way Too Many Empty Spaces.

According to the poll results at the time of this posting, an astounding total of 100 percent of respondents approve of the Arab League’s new Website, with endorsements of “Good” (41%), “Very Good” (29%) and “Excellent” (30%). Even President Bashar al-Assad, running in the 1997 referendum that featured no other candidate, won only 97.6% approval.

Is there any reason to believe the Arab League evaluation forms on Syrian conduct now being filled out by General al-Dabi’s monitors don’t feature the same rich variety of probing categories?



UN Watch