Friday, January 11, 2008

11-Jan-08: Behind the polite public facade

Military and terrorist attacks against Israel have long been part - and only part - of the hostile environment in which we live. The international diplomatic sphere where the combatants prefer suits and ties over helmets and uniforms is frequently as poisonous and as hostile.

To illustrate: two Katyusha rockets were fired into northern Israel on Tuesday. The IDF, which has a pretty reliable track-record of figuring out where the shots are coming from, says they came from Lebanon. As we noted on Tuesday: "18 months ago, Katyushas were fired by the Lebanese-based, Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists nearly 4,000 times into northern Israeli towns and cities, killing 43 civilians and causing hundreds of thousands of Israelis to evacuate the region for several weeks."

So when Israel says these latest Katyushas came from Lebanon - probably fired by Israel's extremely well-equipped Hizbollah enemies, whose forces are dug in throughout southern Lebanon - this would be regarded by most people as self-evident and non-controversial.

But not necessarily if you're the diplomatic agent of an active player in the terrorism industry. Like for instance the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, one Giadalla Ettalhi.

This person became the president (the presidency rotates monthly among members based on alphabetical order in English) of the UN's Security Council ten days ago when Libya acquired a seat on the 15-member council; it will remain a member for two years. In the sessions over which Libya's man presided, Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Cohen led efforts for the past 48 hours to extract a condemnation of the rocket attack. He called it "a grave violation of UN resolution 1701 and a threat to world peace and security." That's the resolution that ended the 2006 war on our northern border.

But according to the New York Sun, Ettalhi, making the most of his new powers, resisted the adoption of a Security Council statement condemning the attack on Israel.

In the end, "after two days of hand-wringing" (see "Libyan Envoy Sparks Criticism at Security Council") the resolution passed earlier today. In it, the Council "strongly condemned the rocket attack launched against Israel on 8 January from Lebanon." In YNet's reporting of the story, Libya's efforts to curb the statement, claiming that the Security Council should instead denounce Israel's sorties over Lebanon, were rejected, and Ettalhi was forced to read out the statement himself.

Libya's recent return to international gatherings comes despite its involvement in the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. Two of its intelligence agents were convicted of engineering the murders and Libya was ordered to pay $2 million per victim as compensation. Far from the media's attention, the Lockerbie victim families say they have yet to receive what Libya is supposed to pay. The chairman of a group called Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 says Libya "should not be fully recognized as coming into civilized nations" until it pays up. The victims and their families unfortunately have no seat or voice at the Security Council.

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