Thursday, June 19, 2014

  • Thursday, June 19, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Saturday, the UN released this statement:

The Secretary-General condemns the abduction on 12 June of three Israeli students, including two minors, in the West Bank. He expresses his solidarity with the families of the abducted and calls for their immediate release.

The Secretary-General again expresses his deep concern about the trend toward violence on the ground and attendant loss of life, including today of a child in Gaza as a result of a recent Israeli airstrike. He expresses his condolences to the bereaved family.

The Secretary-General urges all to exercise restraint and lend their urgent support for the release and safe return of the three youths.
Probably under pressure from the Arab world, this flat statement that the boys were abducted has now been walked back by a spokesman for Ban Ki Moon, Farhan Haq.

Farhan Haq
Question: Following on the late Saturday condemnation by the Secretary-General of the abduction of three Israelis, has there been any attempt by the UN office in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem to help Israelis find the abductees and mediate between two sides?

Deputy Spokesman: Well, we stand ready to help as needed and as requested. If we have a request from the Israeli authorities for their help in this matter, of course we’re ready to provide that help as needed.

Question: Follow-up on that, how has the United Nations established that they have been abducted and whether they were abducted by adversary elements?

Deputy Spokesman: We have no information to confirm an abduction.

Question: But you condemned abduction when you don’t know whether there is abduction or not?

Deputy Spokesman: No, look back at the statement. If any parties can be helpful for the safe return of these boys, of these three youths, that would be appreciated. But in terms of that, we have no confirmation that we can independently make about an abduction.

Question: But there… are you ruling out any… probably criminal activity within the Occupied Territories?

Deputy Spokesman: We would have to see. I don’t want to prejudge the information that may come out. We do not, like I said, we don’t have any information, specific information about the nature of what’s happened. We are simply hoping for their safe return.

Question: But you condemned the abduction?

Deputy Spokesman: I would just refer you to the language of the statement.

...Question: Wait, Farhan, I didn’t get it what you told Nizar. Are you saying that you don’t have any confirmation that there was an abduction?

Deputy Spokesman: We don’t have specific information on this.

Question: So why do we have a UN office in there? I mean, you don’t talk to the Israelis, to the Palestinians. We have a big UN office out there. You don’t even know there was an abduction?

Deputy Spokesman: We’re talking with the sides. Obviously, we are not investigators on the ground. We don’t have any specific first-hand information to confirm what’s taken place. Our views are contained in the statement that we issued over the weekend. And beyond that, we’re urging all sides to do what they can to secure the safe return of these three youths.

Question: So I don’t understand why the Secretary-General is saying he is against this abduction of two minors indeed. I mean how does he know that there are two minors? How does he know anything?

Deputy Spokesman: We know what the details are of the case. What Nizar was asking about was whether we could confirm something. We’re not investigators. We have not… we don’t have an investigative team on the ground, and we cannot confirm it in any sort of first-hand way. We’re dependent on the authorities on the ground.

Question: Yet… sorry, follow-up on that, yet of course you can confirm that there’s collective punishment to the Palestinian population as a result of this? And this is a crime, as I believe, by all standards.

Deputy Spokesman: As the Secretary-General said in his statement over the weekend, he called both for joint efforts, for efforts by all to retrieve the three youths and for restraint, and he continues to call for both things.

Question: Would he issue a statement condemning collective punishment?

Deputy Spokesman: The statement that we’ve issued is the one that we have.
The UN is happy to split hairs when Palestinian Arabs might be blamed for something but hands out blanket condemnations of Israel for breakfast.

(h/t Irene)

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