Question of Palestine home
19 December 2008
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
PRESS CONFERENCE BY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA
Looking back, Mr. Kumalo said that South Africa, during the two months it held the Council Presidency -- April 2008 and March 2007 -- had organized thematic debates that had brought the Council closer to the African Union. It had also promoted the Council’s African counterpart, the African Union Peace and Security Council. Further, South Africa’s Presidency co-led the Security Council’s two visits to the continent, marking the first time that such trips had been led to Africa by countries other than former colonial leaders.
Still, he did have some regrets, he said, explaining that, on the Middle East, the Council never succeeded in highlighting the plight of Palestinians. “It is still a sore point to me that, even when the situation in Gaza was very, very bad, we never could get the Council to even pass a statement.” To draw out the incongruity of the Council’s decisions, he had reminded delegates that the sewage system in Gaza was broken, and that the Council could not say it was promoting the environment when that situation persisted.
The most difficult challenge had been in inviting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to deliver a briefing on what he was doing as Envoy of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process. Four months later, he had been told of a possible visit next year, he added.
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For information media • not an official record