UNITED NATIONS. "U.N. ENVOY CRITICIZES ISRAELI-SYRIAN PEACE TALKS." DOES U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL APPROVE HIS ENVOY'S POSITION?

 

"U.N. ENVOY CRITICIZES ISRAELI-SYRIAN PEACE TALKS." DOES U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL APPROVE HIS ENVOY'S POSITION?

15 JULY 2008

When Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 17 June that "U.N. envoy" Terje Roed Larsen had criticized Israeli-Syrian peace talks in a demarche to certain Israeli diplomats, there were over 100 comments within one day. While about 5 only agreed, most of the replies were exceptionally sharp. "He should keep his mouth shut," was Arik Silverman's 04:03 early morning sound bite. One hour late "Vadim" repeated the advice: "Yes, he should keep his mouth shut." "Israeli can't win with the U.N. Circus," said one while another despaired "doomed if you do..." "He should be fired," "Larsen is an idiot..." Someone said that Larsen "hit the nail on the head" or "It's o.k. we're used to giving without anything in return." However, someone else accused Larsen of being on the payroll of (Lebanese) Hariri family. Another repeated twice that Israel had given Larsen (and his wife) a huge gift ($100,000) for services rendered or that Diplomat is another Israeli agent!

One can easily access the escalating -- colourful and some very puzzling -- reaction at Haaretz.com. The intensity and number of the responses within hours of the report reflected not just the sensitivity of Middle East politics but the controversial position of Mr. Larsen who reportedly brags about being the second most hated person at the U.N. (supposedly after John Bolton as told by Mr. Bolton himself).

That, however, is no news. The question relates to the UNITED NATIONS POSITION ON DIRECT OR INDIRECT PEACE TALKS.

Normally, the United Nations is an organization of PEACE. Any kind of negotiation is better than conflict. Even war hero Winston Churchill used to say that "Jaw Jaw is always better than Bang Bang." The Secretary General is on the record welcoming peace talks everywhere, especially in the Middle East where even the futile work of the Quartet moving from one communique to another is considered better than clashes.

Readers responding to the Haaretz report were treating Larsen as if he was the U.N., reflecting the U.N. voice. Hence the comments attacking the Organization.

Once more Secretary General Ban is losing his credibility gradually with all sides of the Middle East just because he is neither willing nor able to reign in his "envoy." The increasing impression, unfortunately, is that he is not in full charge.

Click here to access the 17 June Haaretz article and comments.