Monday, February 01, 2010

Arabs block Canberra's UN push

From: The Australian February 02, 2010 by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor:

KEVIN Rudd's bid for a UN Security Council seat has been dealt a severe blow after a warning from the Arab League that it is less likely to succeed because of Australia's support for Israel.


Hashem Yousseff, chief of cabinet for Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa...[said] Australia's support for Israel...was "one of the elements that will be taken into consideration" by the 22-member Arab League in deciding whether to support Australia's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term...

...Mr Yousseff's comments indicate it will be difficult for Australia to out-poll the European nations, which are regularly more critical of Israel.

...The Security Council seat will be voted on by all 192 UN members. Although the Arab League represents only 22 of them, it often votes at the UN in alliances with the African Union and with the Non-Aligned Movement.

Determined opposition from any of these blocs makes an Australian bid unlikely to succeed. It was to avoid blackmail on policy issues such as this that the Howard government abandoned its attempt to win a seat in 1996.

Further evidence of Arab opposition to Australia's bid emerges in an extravagantly worded letter from the Syrian ambassador in Canberra, Tamman Sulaiman, to Mr Rudd.

The letter, dated November 26 last year...makes the link between Canberra's support of Israel and Arab opposition to its Security Council bid ...

...But the ambassador goes on to express appreciation for Australia changing its vote on two resolutions to be more critical of Israel. Under the Rudd government, Canberra has changed its position on several resolutions from one supportive of Israel to one critical....

...However, Australia still supports Israel in the overwhelming majority of resolutions. In a January letter from Mr Sulaiman to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, Damascus complains bitterly of Australia voting alone with the US, Canada, Israel itself and four Pacific island states against two anti-Israel resolutions...
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