posted on MON 28 MAR 2011 3:46 PM
Insights on the Middle East

On 22 March the Council had its regular briefing on the Middle East and Palestinian Question. Oscar Fenandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council on developments related to the Quartet as well as incidents on the ground. (The decision to hold a monthly briefing on the Middle East and Palestinian Question emerged through informal consultations in February 2002. Although no official statement was issued to mandate regular briefings, since August 2002 there has been a briefing on the Middle East almost every month, sometimes accompanied by consultations or an open debate. This history is explained in Security Council Report’s Special Research Report on the Middle East of December 2007. )

Following the briefing the Council members continued their discussion of the Middle East and Palestinian question in informal consultations. Among the issues discussed was the next Quartet meeting in mid-April. (The Quartet includes the UN, EU, US and Russia) European Council members stressed that they were looking for stronger language on parameters as this would be key to persuading the Palestinians to go back to the negotiating table.

Russia also once again brought up its proposal for a Council mission to the Middle East. (On 8 February Russia had proposed a Council visit to Israel and Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.) While there was support from a number of Council members, there is a general sense that there needs to be a unified Council position and messaging on a number of key issues related to the region if such a mission takes place.