J'lem seeks to stop 'Palestine' from attending UN parley
03.07.2012 20:47 |
Israel is working actively in key capitals around the world to prevent the Palestinians from participating in a UN arms trade treaty conference taking place in New York as a full fledged state, and not merely as an observer, western diplomatic officials said Tuesday.
According to the officials, Israel has lodged demarches in various key capitals urging that they work against seating the Palestinians as a state at the meeting which aims to hammer out a binding treaty to regulate the global weapons market. The officials said that Israel has let it be known that it would block the results of the treaty if the Palestinians were granted state status.
The treaty must be approved unanimously, so any one country can effectively override the deal. However such a veto could eventually be bypassed by a two-thirds majority vote in the UN General Assembly.
"What this move shows is that the Palestinians have not given up on pursuing UN membership or on the unilateral UN track," one western official said.
The maneuvering at the arms trade treaty conference comes just days after the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a World Heritage Site under the name "Palestine."
So far UNESCO is the only UN agency that has accepted the Palestinian delegation as representatives of a state. Since it suffered a cutoff of US funds as a result of that move, the Palestinians – one diplomatic official said -- set their sites not on the UN agencies, but rather on getting state accreditation at lesser UN meetings, such as the recent Rio Earth Summit.
The Palestinians tried to gain the status of state at that meeting, but – according to Israeli officials – were outmaneuvered procedurally and were not successfully. The same type of wrangling is now taking place around the arms trade treaty meeting.
According to western officials, Israel, the US, Canada and the Netherlands are leading the charge against the Palestinian move. Egypt is the country that asked for the Palestinians to be seated as a state.
The European Union is still discussing the issue, with some EU countries – such as Finland – in favor, and others, such as the Netherlands, opposed. Some European countries, Sweden for instance, are opposed on procedural grounds, feeling that if the Palestinians want UN statehood they need to go through the "front door" and gain admittance through approval by the Security Council. The Palestinians failed in their gambit for statehood last year at the Security Council.
The arms trade treaty meeting in New York is being held to try and curb the global weapons market, valued at more than $60 billion a year.
Arms control campaigners say one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence around the world and that a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities.
If they get their way, all signatories would be charged with enforcing compliance to any treaty by companies that produce arms and with taking steps to prevent rogue dealers from operating within their borders. They say conflicts in Syria and elsewhere cast a shadow over the talks, reminding delegates of the urgency of the situation.
While most UN member states favor a strong treaty, there are deep divisions on key issues to be tackled in the treaty negotiations, such as whether human rights should be a mandatory criterion for determining whether governments should permit weapons exports to specific countries.
Arms control advocates say a strong treaty is long overdue. "It is an absurd and deadly reality that there are currently global rules governing the trade of fruit and dinosaur bones, but not ones for the trade of guns and tanks," said Jeff Abramson, the director of an organization called Control Arms.
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