South news July 18

UN condemns new Israeli settlements in Jerusalem

The UN General Assembly on July 15 condemned Israel's failure to comply with its demands that it immediately cease building a new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem and demanded that it immediately cease and reverse all illegal actions taken against Palestinian Jerusalemites.

By a vote of 131 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 14 abstentions, the Assembly also demanded that Israel, the occupying Power, make available information about goods produced or manufactured in the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.

The UN also demanded that Israel reverse immediately all illegal actions against Palestinian Jerusalemites. The Assembly recommended that the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in time of war convene a conference on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, and to ensure respect for it.

The Assembly was meeting in a resumption of its tenth emergency special session on illegal Israeli activities in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. In adopting today's resolution, it also recommended that Member States actively discourage activities that directly contribute to the construction of or development of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

Speaking for the European Union and associated States, the representative of Luxembourg Mr Wolzfeld reiterated that settlements in the occupied territories contravened international law, constituted a major obstacle to peace and violated the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He expressed regret that the Assembly had needed to meet again to examine the question of illegal Israeli actions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory. The Union noted with concern the 25 April report of the Secretary- General, which stated that the Government of Israel had not abandoned its construction of a new Israeli settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim. It also stated that the expansion of existing settlements, the construction of bypass roads, the confiscation of land adjacent to settlements and related activities in violation of Security Council resolutions on the matter, continue unabated throughout the occupied territories".

The European Union was extremely concerned that construction work was continuing at Jebel Abu Ghneim/Har Homa, and that Israel had failed to respond to international appeals to immediately suspend that construction, he said. The Union wished to reiterate that settlements in the occupied territories contravened international law and constituted a major obstacle to peace. They also represented a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Mr Wolzfeld was speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland and Leichtenstein.

Mr Ahmed ali Kalaz of Yemen said the whole world had witnessed the Israeli actions that undermined the peace process, he said. Israel had broken agreements negotiated with the Palestinians. The Secretary-General's report reflected the brazenness of Israel's actions. Each day, the media provided frightening information about occurrences in the occupied territories. As one of the co-sponsors of the draft resolution before the Assembly, Yemen called on the international community to take effective measures to force Israel to observe its commitments and to comply with the basis of the peace process.

The representative of Iraq, Nizar Hamdoon said that Israel's violations of international law would not continue if it did not have the protection of a super-Power. The use of the veto power by the United States to shield Israel in the Security Council was an example of that country's double standards. Mr Hamdoon said that super-power should stop supporting Israeli actions that violated international law.

Mr Peleg (Israel ) said ,"Calls for economic measures, threats to ostracize Israel in the United Nations, and the endless ritual of submitting one-sided reports would not help the peace process. The draft resolution was an invitation to step back into the dark ages of the past."

He urged member states to vote against the resolution but only persuaded two others to do so.

Speaking on Iraqi television on the anniversary of the July 17 1968 revolution in Iraq, President Saddam Hussein said it was now time for a Arab Summit to meet on the question of Palestine and for Arab states to freeze their relations with Israel.

PNG still in crisis over Sandline

Former Papua New Guinean military leader Jerry Singirok has defended a $52,000 secret payment from a British arms dealer, saying there was no conflict of interest. Last  Saturday's Weekend Australian newspaper raised serious doubts over the reasons behind Singirok's March mutiny against the Papua New Guinean government's contract with British-based mercenaries company Sandline International. It was revealed that Singirok received payments from one of Sandline's rivals -- J and S Franklin -- which were paid into a London bank account for more than a year. J and S Franklin are the main military suppliers to the Papua New Guinean Government.

Mr Singirok was dismissed as commander of the PNGDF in March after leading a mutiny against the use of Sandline mercenaries in operations to crush the separatist rebels in Bougainville.

The Weekend Australian report claimed that Singirok admitted  that the account existed after the newspaper obtained copies of bank statements showin a total of 31,000 pounds sterling (about K72,300) had been deposited into the account since April last year.These show the account had been used conjunction with a Visa card for cash advances, payment of hotel bills, airline tickets and a tailor in Singapore.

Singirok denied any impropriety, claiming the payments were the result of his personal friendship with Sydney Franklin, founder of the arms firm."As commander of the PNG Defence Force, I have not ordered any equipment from J and S Franklin," he said.

His admission appeared to contradict evidence given under oath to the Sandline inquiry in April during which he denied that he had been offered any "benefit by Franklin."I am aware that Mr Franklin wanted to assist me of his own will," Singirok said, "but I am not aware of what deposits he may have made."

Mr Singirok said he wanted a new and wider commission of inquiry into the Sandline affair. But he said this would not happen if the current coalition partners formed the next PNG government. "I am not afraid. I will not hide my sins. But the bigger picture is that the bigger players must also not hide their sins," he continued.

According to PNG's NIUSWIRE, Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan, who admitted his loss in the Namatanai seat in last month's general election was partly due to the Sandline mercenary issue,told reporter Peter Niesi yesterday: "It's just sickening." His only other comment was: "Mi les". (In Pidjin, the comment may be interpreted either as "I'm tired" or "I've had enough"). In other Sandline related developments: operation Rausim Kwik corporal "Terminator" [Corporal Alan] was arrested at gunpoint by two officers early Tuesday.

In the recent PNG election over half of the sitting MPs lost their seats. The political development show that the people of PNG have rebelled against corruption in PNG's institutions. In a rebellion against the web of financial, diplomatic, military and political connections holding back PNG's emergence from underdevelopment and impoverishment in the post-independence era a new generation of leaders is emerging . Many of these leaders have their thinking rooted in the realities of people's lives in PNG itself, not the boardrooms of London and New York.

Sources: Weekend Australian, NIUSWIRE (

Bombings in Cuba

On July 12, bombs went off in the lobbies of Hotel  Nacional and the Hotel Capri in Havana, Cuba. Three people  were injured. A Cuban Ministry of Interior statement cited  "evidence that the people responsible for these deeds and  also the materials they used came from the United States." The hotel bombings came as thousands of people are preparing to travel to  Cuba for the World Youth Festival.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry reiterated today that Cuban authorities  have evidence that both the perpetrators of last week's 2 terrorist  bombs in Havana hotels, and the material used to make those bombs,  came from the United States.  Spokesman Miguel Alfonso said the  evidence will be presented at an opportune moment.

In reference to  US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns' accusation that Cuba's  denunciation was mere paranoia, Alfonso recalled that the same  terminology was used by US officials in the 1960s and 1970s -- and  that subsequently, declassified CIA documents proved what Cuba had been claiming all along.  He made mention of the numerous assassination plots against leaders of the Cuban revolution, as detailed in the declassified documents. Alfonso pointed to the many groups of Cuban-American terrorists in the US who publicly announce their actions in press conferences.

On the other hand, said the foreign ministry spokesman, the presentation of evidence doesn't  necessarily guarantee justice in the US, as demonstrated by the  acquittal of the 3 Cuban hijackers. The bombings  come  at a time when Washington is trying to strangle  the Cuban revolution by strengthening the 37-year-old  blockade--first with the Torricelli Act and then with the  Helms-Burton Act.

Last October, the United States resorted to sabotage via  biological warfare. A plane flying over Matanzas province  dropped organisms that cause Thrips palmi plague--which  destroys crops and virtually all ground vegetation.   The Cuban government identified the plane as one operated  by the U.S. State Department, ostensibly to prevent drug  trafficking


Kofi launches reform package for UN

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the broadest reforms in U.N. history Wednesday The proposals, announced in an address to the U.N. General Assembly and in a 95-page report, come because of  a financial crisis brought on by the US refusal to pay obligatory dues for years and then come up with its own plan unilaterally deciding how much American dues should be (20 per cent from 25 per cent), pruning its arrears accordingly and an offer of  $870 million, as against $1.6 billion the US owes the United Nations, over the next three years.

"This is my pledge to you, and to the world: Today, we begin a quiet revolution in the United Nations," Annan told the General Assembly, U.N.which will have to approve some of the measures at its next session, beginning in September. Annan told reporters later that he hoped most of the changes could be in place by November.

The reform plan is seek efficiencies, reduce duplication and result in a gradual reduction in U.N. staffing in years to come, the 1,000 positions--10% of the work force of the U.N. secretariat--it eliminates immediately are vacant and in some cases have been unfilled for more than a year.

Among the proposals announced Wednesday:

A "revolving fund" of up to $1 billion to help the U.N. through its ongoing financial crisis, largely caused by the failure of the pay its back dues. The fund would be created by voluntary contributions from member states and could lend money, with interest, to countries too poor to pay their dues.

Annan seemed to anticipate such criticism in his address to the General Assembly.

"I ask . . . that you judge us not only by the cuts we propose or by the structures we change. Judge us instead--and judge us rightly--by the relief and the refuge that we provide to the poor, to the hungry, to the sick and threatened--the peoples of the world whom the United Nations exists to serve."