Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leaked U.N. memo: Israel’s ‘provocative’ actions in Jerusalem could ‘derail’ peace process

(Mondoweiss.net).U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was advised to tell George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy on the Middle East, that Israel’s house evictions in East Jerusalem are "provocative" and "that the volatile situation in East Jerusalem is capable of de-railing a [peace] process," according to a confidential U.N. "talking points" memo prepared for Ban before his meeting with Mitchell last week and obtained by Mondoweiss.

The memo also says that the United Nations and the Russians are pushing for a February meeting in Moscow with the other two members of the Quartet– the U.S. and the European Union– in efforts to restart the stagnant peace process. The Palestinians might engage in spite of Israel’s failure to curb settlements, the memo says, if "something very meaningful" were placed on the table, presumably an Israeli offer on borders of a Palestinian state.

Mondoweiss obtained two U.N. memos through a source in Jerusalem with no connection to the U.N. who happened upon the documents. One is titled "Background Note for the Secretary-General Meeting with Senator Mitchell 5 January 2010," and the other is titled "Talking Points for the Secretary-General’s Meeting with Sen. Mitchell, US Special Envoy for Middle East peace (5 January 2010)." Sec’y-General Ban and Mitchell met last week. The U.N. issued this bland report. Other references in the documents also check out.

The talking points memo shows the U.N. repeatedly pushing the Palestinian side, for instance saying that Israel’s restrictions on materials entering Gaza are "simply unacceptable."

here is an extended excerpt of the Talking Points document:

Talking Points for the Secretary-General’s Meeting with Sen. Mitchell, US Special Envoy for Middle East peace (5 January 2010)…

[Objectives of meeting: Hear US strategy towards resuming negotiations, and press upon the Senator the importance of an active Quartet, meaningful steps to address Palestinian concerns, and to push Gaza.]

Political Process…

There are high expectations for the UN to play a role in the achievement of peace in the Middle East. I face questions on this issue on a daily basis from member states.

I believe that greater engagement from the Quartet would reassure many in the international community, and give your efforts added support. I hope we can find a more systematic way to work together in the coming period, both at Principals and envoys levels.

I should mention that I received a message from Foreign Minister Lavrov, proposing that the Quartet meet in Moscow at the end of February and asking for my support…

[As appropriate:]

We are sending messages to the Palestinians that they need to engage constructively. However, they are unlikely to change their position on settlements without something very meaningful on the table.

I therefore believe it would be helpful to establish clear parameters for talks. I think the Quartet can be useful for setting them out, or producing greater clarity about the end game and the process leading to it. Do you think we could use the Moscow meeting?

Talks would also need to show political results fairly early. Are you seeking to focus on borders at the outset of talks, as you indicated in our last Quartet Principals teleconference?

My biggest concern is that the volatile situation in East Jerusalem is capable of de-railing a process. The increasing presence of settlers and house evictions in Palestinian neighbourhoods are provocative. Short of Israeli steps towards fulfilling Road Map obligations in East Jerusalem, is it possible at least to get them to agree to a decrease in provocative actions?

Finally, how do you see the regional dimension, in particular, prospects on the Syrian track? Do you believe it will be possible to resume indirect Israeli-Syrian talks, through Turkey? And if so, would the US be prepared to strongly support this? I would certainly encourage you in this regard.


I remain deeply concerned about the situation in the Gaza Strip. Despite my repeated intervention, efforts to get in materials to complete UN projects have so far not succeeded. This is simply unacceptable.

We must continue insisting that Israel allows more material to enter Gaza for reconstruction projects. I look forward to continued US support on this matter.
Justify Full