posted on MON 20 OCT 2014 4:27 PM
Open Debate on the Middle East

Tomorrow (21 October), the Security Council will hold its quarterly open debate on the Middle East with Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefing. The main focus is expected to be Gaza and reconstruction efforts there following the devastation wrought by the 50-day conflict with Israel last summer. Feltman is also expected to update Council members on the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces last week in the Old City area of East Jerusalem over fears that Israel planned to restrict access for Muslims to the Al-Haram Al-Sharif compound, site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Jordan, as the historic custodian of the compound, may raise questions about Israel’s intentions with regard to the compound. Feltman may also elaborate on the clashes between protestors and Israeli forces near the separation wall in the West Bank town of Beit Liqya.

Council members are likely to be most interested in information that might be relevant to the current negotiations on a draft resolution on Israel/Palestine. An earlier draft resolution presented by Jordan on behalf of the Arab League focused on the Gaza conflict was put in blue in early August, before the 26 August ceasefire agreement, and is still on the table (S/2014/568). However, a new draft resolution, reflecting new developments and addressing the wider conflict, was circulated on 30 September by Jordan on behalf of Palestine and the Arab Group. This new text was apparently drafted by the Palestinians and sets a timeframe for a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It calls for the full withdrawal of Israel from all of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by November 2016. In addition, the draft calls for an independent Palestinian state, a resolution of the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states, and a resolution of the problem of the Palestine refugees in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.

Members may be looking for information on continuing Israeli settlement activity as the draft also demands the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities. It also demands the full lifting of the Israeli blockade, citing resolution 1860 of January 2009 it demands the opening of all the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, and for the immediate and expanded provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in the Gaza Strip. It also calls for the deployment of an international presence to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, but does not prescribe what such a presence may entail. Council members are likely to be interested in any reactions from the ground to the demands made in the draft resolution.

Council members held their first expert level consultations on the draft last week to exchange initial reactions on the draft. It appears that while there are some members—including Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, Jordan and Russia—that support the text as is, it would not at this point garner the nine positive votes needed to be adopted, even without a veto. Several other Council members believe that the text would need substantial revision in order to be acceptable, but are willing to engage on the resolution in hopes of achieving an agreeable text. Some of these members also stress that any resolution adopted ought to be acceptable to both parties to be fruitful. However, much of the current draft would likely be unacceptable to the US, which has indicated that any negotiations on the text would necessitate capital-level involvement. Some members believe that the draft tries to tackle too many sensitive issues. In addition there are concerns that it lacks balance and does not address Israeli concerns. While it is possible that with changes, the text may gain support of at least nine members, the general sense is that it would still probably be vetoed by the US. When asked about the proposed resolution earlier this month, US Ambassador Samantha Power said that the US believes the only solution to the conflict is through negotiations between the two parties. At press time it was unclear how negotiations on the text would proceed, but it appeared that it was likely to be a slow-moving process.

Council members are also likely to be interested in hearing from Feltman about efforts to rebuild Gaza after last summer’s devastating conflict with Israel and may be looking for an update on the implementation of the trilateral agreement among Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the UN, brokered by Special Coordinator Robert Serry on the reconstruction of Gaza. This agreement gave the PA a lead role in the effort while providing security assurances through UN monitoring, that construction materials will not be diverted from their civilian purposes.

Information on a Gaza reconstruction conference organised by Egypt and Norway held in Cairo on 12 October to raise funds is also likely to be of interest. Participating countries pledged $5.4 billion to the Palestinian people, with half that amount allocated for the reconstruction of Gaza. Addressing the conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the successful reconstruction of Gaza requires a strong political foundation and that the comprehensive reconciliation agreement reached between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo on 25 September was a promising first step. Ban pledged UN support for the Government of National Consensus as it manages Gaza’s reconstruction needs and added that promoting an environment conducive to peace must include an investigation into possible violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. Two days later, Ban visited Gaza where he characterised the destruction from the recent conflict as “beyond description” and a source of “shame to the international community”.

posted on FRI 17 OCT 2014 3:37 PM
Golan Heights Consultations: Options for UNDOF’s Mandate

On Monday (20 October), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet will brief Council members in consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). Monday’s briefing is a follow-up to a 19 September presidential statement that requested the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to update the Council on the steps necessary to maintain UNDOF’s ability to carry out its mandate while adjusting the mission’s posture to minimise risk to personnel (S/PRST/2014/19).… Read more »

posted on WED 15 OCT 2014 4:41 PM
Security Council Elections 2014

Tomorrow morning (16 October), the General Assembly will hold elections to fill five of the ten non-permanent seats in the Security Council (for the 2015-2016 term).… Read more »

posted on TUE 14 OCT 2014 10:18 AM
Briefing and Consultations on Ebola

This afternoon (14 October), the Council will receive a briefing on Ebola followed by consultations. Briefers will be Anthony Banbury, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The meeting, proposed by the US, is expected to focus on the security implications of the Ebola epidemic and its impact on the political and peacekeeping missions in the region.… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 8:09 PM
Resolution Renewing the Mandate of UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Tomorrow morning (14 October) the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). At press time, the US, the penholder on Haiti, had put a draft resolution in blue authorising a further drawdown of MINUSTAH’s military strength as recommended by the Secretary-General in his latest report (S/2014/617) and extending the mission’s mandate for a further 12 months until 15 October 2015. However, with some Council members continuing to have reservations… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 3:57 PM
UN Interim Security Force for Abyei Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow morning (14 October), the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The draft resolution was circulated by the US, the penholder on UNISFA, to Council members last week, followed by one negotiating session on Thursday (9 October). It appears that negotiations were generally smooth. The draft was put under silence the following day (10 October), after which it went into blue.… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 12:02 PM
Consultations on Yemen

This afternoon (Monday, 13 October) Council members will be briefed in consultations by Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen Jamal Benomar. While the periodic consultations on Yemen, agreed to when the programme of work was adopted earlier this month, remain scheduled for 29 October, in light of the sharp deterioration in the security and political situation in Yemen, the UK, the lead country on Yemen in the Council, requested on Friday today’s briefing by Benomar. Also on Friday, the… Read more »

posted on WED 8 OCT 2014 6:03 PM
Public Briefing by UN Force Commanders

Tomorrow morning (9 October), the Council expects to discuss key cross-cutting operational issues in UN peacekeeping during a briefing by Military Advisor Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmed from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and force commanders Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), Major General Jean Bosco Kazura (Rwanda) of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha (India) of the UN Disengagement… Read more »

posted on TUE 7 OCT 2014 4:21 PM
Briefing and Consultations on the Security Situation and Political Process in Mali

Tomorrow (8 October), the Security Council will hold a briefing followed by consultations on the situation in Mali with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous speaking via video-teleconference from Mali. The meeting is expected to provide Council members with an opportunity to discuss the 22 September Secretary-General’s report on Mali (S/2014/692), particularly the implementation of the 18 June 2013 Ouagadougou preliminary agreement and the expansion of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in the north.… Read more »

posted on FRI 3 OCT 2014 12:32 PM
Syria: OPCW-UN Joint Mission Concludes, Work Remains

Tuesday (7 October), Sigrid Kaag, the former Special Coordinator of the recently concluded joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN, will brief Council members in consultations via video-teleconference. She will present the twelfth monthly report (S/2014/706) on the implementation of resolution 2118, which required the verification and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.… Read more »