To: Conference of Presidents Leadership
From: Richard B. Stone, Chairman
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chairman
The Conference of Presidents and its UN Committee, the National Inter-Agency Task Force to Secure Israel’s Rights and Legitimacy, and the Special Committee on Durban III and UDI, together with member agencies, have devoted a great deal of thought and effort to develop an intensive, phased plan as we move toward the September opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. Consultations were held for more than six months with US, Israel and foreign officials and experts to anticipate the developments now taking place. Efforts are focused primarily on averting Palestinian plans to declare statehood unilaterally, on assuring that the Durban III review conference is not Israel focused, and on turning these into opportunities to build support for Israel.
To help educate and mobilize our community in the most constructive way through a program of escalating activities between now and September, the Conference, with continuing input from member organizations and extensive consultations with experts and policy makers, has developed an action plan for our community that will also allow for flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. A number of actions already have been initiated including consultations with and approaches to government officials both in the US and abroad.
In this first phase of activity, constituent member organizations are organizing delegations to visit European, African, and Latin American Consuls General across the country to urge opposition to a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence at the UN and to urge non-participation in the Durban III Review Conference. (see list of countries below). It is vital that organizations and agencies cooperate and coordinate these visits be in the communities in which there are Consuls General. Therefore, we are requesting that whenever possible such visits be coordinated through the JCPA’s Israel Action Network. Briefings will be provided for those participating.
These meetings with local Consuls General will add important weight to our ongoing work with foreign governments’ leaders, as they will be followed by meetings with Ambassadors to the US in Washington, DC, with UN Ambassadors in New York through August and September and critical meetings with key heads of state and foreign ministers prior to and during the opening of the UN General Assembly session on September 21-23. Your organization’s participation is essential so that we can maximize our collective impact at this critical time.
Durban III Update
The modalities for the “Durban III” conference have been set. The morning session of the conference to be held on July 22 (9:00-11:00 am) will include remarks by the President of 66th UN General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar), Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay (South Africa), Head of State of South Africa Jacob Zuma, Heads of Regional Groups (African States; Asian States; Eastern European States; Latin American and Caribbean States; and Western European and other States) and representatives of NGOs in related fields. The afternoon session will include two consecutive round-tables that will be open for country representative to speak. A closing plenary session will take place from 6:00-7:00 p.m. where summaries of the round table discussions will be presented. The fixed term for the conclusion will, hopefully, keep those who seek to exploit this session from doing so. The plenary is then expected to adopt a short and political declaration.
Negotiations regarding the political text are beginning. The first draft of the proposed statement can be seen at tinyurl.com/DurbanIIIDraft. The Ambassadors of Cameroon and Monaco are leading the effort to draft the document. Several countries and UN officials support Israel’s preference for a concise political declaration that does not refer to specific geographical regions. Other countries favor language that cites racism as a global phenomenon and does not mention individual countries.
To date, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Italy have joined with the United States, Canada, and Israel, in announcing that they will not participate in Durban III because of concern about an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel focus.
Among the key priorities for immediate consular visits to encourage them to announce their non-participation are: Germany, Romania, Poland, France, Hungary, UK, Bulgaria, Denmark, Slovakia, Macedonia, and New Zealand. (Most Latin American and African countries are not expected to boycott the meeting but should be pressed.)
We are in regular contact with the US, Israeli, and other UN delegations and officials to assure maximum effectiveness.
It is vital that we continue to advocate for a negotiated Middle East settlement and against a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. The 100 Day Action Plan speaks to the approaches we should be taking between now and the September.
Recognition of a state or a resolution of approval by the Security Council is then referred to the General Assembly. The US has made clear it will veto such a proposal. (See recent address by Ambassador DiCarlo of the US Mission to the UN at tinyurl.com/USagainstUDI.)
Although the UN General Assembly is not authorized to recognize statehood or define borders, the Palestinian Authority could pursue one or more avenues there that would have symbolic value, offer increased visibility and greater participation in UN and related international agencies. Participation in specialized agencies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), etc., would afford increased standing to challenge Israel. The Palestinians may also seek a resolution recognizing the 1967 borders and a capital in Jerusalem. Whether such a resolution would recognize Israel as a Jewish state or refer to “two states for two peoples” is not yet clear.
A large block of states has indicated the intention to support a Palestinian declaration of statehood and many have already announced their recognition of Palestine. Several countries are on record opposing such a move. The European Union is expected to split on the issue of a unilateral declaration although they seek a unified stance. Some believe only a negotiated settlement should be pursued; others have not committed or are expected to abstain. The Palestinians need a two-thirds majority vote of member countries present and voting. Therefore, it is important to continue communicating to the US Administration to press America’s allies to be present and vote against a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state (UDI) or at least register an abstention.
While the July 15th deadline for the Palestinians to submit a request to the Secretary-General for Security Council consideration, it is still possible for them to short circuit the process and submit at a later date. The date for a submission to the General Assembly is now fixed and could come at virtually anytime. Given the non-aligned bloc and others, it is virtually assumed that the necessary majority will be there.
Priority visits should be scheduled now to the Consuls General of key countries that have not declared their positions on UDI as follows:
Africa: Gabon, Nigeria, Chana, Cameron, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda
Latin America: Columbia, Panama, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras
Caricom: St. Vincent, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados
Asia & the Pacific: South Korea, Japan, Australia, Mongolia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Philippines, East Timor, Thailand, China
East Europe & Baltic: Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia
West Europe: United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Spain
There have been questions raised about demonstrations. There are two aspects – logistical and substantive. The week of September 21st will see President Obama and scores of world leaders in NY, making movement in large parts of the city, but especially near the UN, almost impossible. Buses certainly would not be able to get near the UN. While permits have been taken out to keep options open it was agreed by all organizations that we would not now call for demonstrations, but would explore alternative public events.
Perhaps more important is that the substantive considerations argue against demonstrations. Every effort is being made to direct the focus of “Durban III” away from Israel and making the event as irrelevant as possible. Many officials asked why we would call more attention to the conference and especially to Israel when we should be keeping the focus on human rights violations. As the US has pulled out of “Durban III” and opposes the UDI, they are not a target for denunciations. We also do not want to escalate the importance of the Palestinian action as we work to prevent it.
So, on all grounds it is felt that we should direct our energy into the phased program described in this material. If, at any point it is determined that other actions are called for, there will be an immediate consultation to implement such collective action.