Israel’s Foreign Policy Counselors Divided over Syria’s Seat at Security Council
Israeli foreign policy mandarins are divided over what Israel should do about Syria's application to the UN Security Council, reported Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday.
Syria's election to a seat at the UN Security Council will be held by the 189-member UN General Assembly in October.
According to a report by Reuters published on CNN.com Tuesday, Syria has received the endorsement of Asian and Arab nations for a rotating seat on the prestigious 15-member UN Security Council next year, to the consternation of Israel.
Syria wishes to replace Tunisia at the end of 2001 as the Arab representative to the UN Security Council from 2002-2004. The Security Council has five permanent members and 10 rotating seats.
According to Haaretz, one school of thought says “Israel should rise up on its hind legs, because, even though it is a losing battle, as Syria is seen having the votes to win the coveted seat, Jerusalem should be objecting to Damascus getting such an important role in the world body,” a counselor at the foreign ministry said.
The other school of thought, continued the report, says that precisely because Syria's assumption of the role is a forgone conclusion, Israel should not waste its diplomatic ammunition on the cause.
The two schools of thought exist both in the foreign ministry and in the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office.
"The Syrian option is dead," a source at Sharon’s office said, noting that Syrian President Bashar Assad has become a vehement supporter of the Palestinian Intifada, and has been routinely attacking Israel with particularly vituperative rhetoric, most recently at the March summit of the Arab League in Amman.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has rarely commented publicly on Syria since taking office, though he did spend some of his time with President Bush last month in the White House discussing Damascus, according to the paper.
Sharon had told Bush that “Syria's support of the most radical anti-peace elements in the Middle East, including support for Hizbollah in Lebanon and its hosting of rejectionist groups in Damascus, should keep it on the U.S. list of countries that support terrorism,” the source told the paper.
“Syria's occupation of Lebanon, combined with its support for various terrorist organizations in that country and on its own soil, that could serve as the main focal point of an Israeli campaign against seating Syria on the Security Council,” he added.
The UN's mandate for council membership specifically states that the seats are reserved for countries that support peace-making efforts in their region, added the paper.
But those opposed to fighting a Syrian seat, while appreciating the argument for launching a campaign, argue about the results.
Since Israel will be unable to prevent the vote in favor of Syria getting its two-year term on the council, it would be a wasted diplomatic effort to fight the vote.
Some sources in the Sharon’s office agree with that tack, saying that Israel could even benefit from having Syria on the council, at the very least using the fact that “an enemy country has such an important role at the UN as proof that the body is hostile to Israel.” – Albawaba.com
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