Ex-diplomat: UN failed in Middle East, subservient to U.S., Israel

By Reuters / Ha Aretz

A former U.N. Middle East envoy quit his job last month making bitter allegations that U.N. policy in the region had failed because it was subservient to U.S. and Israeli interests, according to a leaked document.

In a confidential end-of-mission report, seen by Reuters, Alvaro de Soto poured scorn on the Quartet negotiating group of the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations, and suggested the world body should pull out of the group established for the purpose of advancing peace in the Middle East.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday the report represented De Soto’s personal views and disputed his former envoy’s conclusion that the Quartet had become a “side-show”.

De Soto, a Peruvian diplomat who formerly worked on El Salvador, Cyprus and the Western Sahara, spent two years on the Middle East before resigning in May, ending a 25-year U.N. career. He was replaced by Briton Michael Williams.

His scathing 53-page farewell, addressed to a handful of top U.N. officials made clear he left because he was frustrated that he was being ignored.

In the document dated May 5th, he railed at restrictions he said were placed on him by U.N. headquarters against talking to the Hamas-led Palestinian government and to Syria.

De Soto condemned economic sanctions imposed by Israel, the United States and the EU on Hamas after it won Palestinian elections last year and said their effective endorsement by the Quartet had had “devastating consequences” for Palestinians.

“The steps taken by the international community with the presumed purpose of bringing about a Palestinian entity that will live in peace with its neighbor Israel have had precisely the opposite effect,” he wrote.

“Even-handedness has been pummeled into submission in an unprecedented way since the beginning of 2007.”

Speaking to reporters, Ban regretted that De Soto’s report had leaked out, but said: “I’d like to make it clear that this is his personal view. I would not agree with his point that the Quartet has been kind of some side-show.”

He said the grouping had been “re-energized” and noted that at its next meeting, in Egypt later this month it would meet Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Jordanian, Qatari, Syrian and Arab League officials.

De Soto sharply criticized the Islamist Hamas movement for advocating Israel’s destruction, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a foe of Hamas, for weak leadership, and the Palestinian failure to halt militant attacks on Israeli civilians.

But he also charged that Israeli policies seemed “perversely designed to encourage the continued action by Palestinian militants.”

De Soto blasted what he called “the tendency that exists among U.S. policy-makers … to cower before any hint of Israeli displeasure and to pander shamelessly before Israeli-linked audiences.”

But much of his criticism was aimed at the United Nations, where, he said, “a premium is put on good relations with the U.S. and improving the U.N.’s relationship with Israel.”

“I don’t honestly think the U.N. does Israel any favors at all by not speaking frankly to it about its failings regarding the peace process,” De Soto said.

He said Ban should “seriously reconsider” continued U.N. membership in the Quartet, which he said had become “pretty much a group of friends of the U.S.”

De Soto said he regretted that his advice to U.N. headquarters had gone unheeded. “I concluded that my uphill effort was not going to succeed,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: