J'lem to vie for 2019 UNSC seat despite Berlin bid
Israel will go ahead with its candidacy for an unprecedented seat on the UN Security Council in 2019 despite Germany’s determination to run against it, diplomatic officials told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni brought up in separate meetings on Friday with visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle the announcement by Berlin that it will seek a seat on the council in 2019, badly weakening Israel’s chances to win a first-ever seat on the Security Council.
Westerwelle’s response, according to diplomatic officials, “did not leave us optimistic.”
According to the officials, Westerwelle said that Germany would be glad to support an Israeli bid to sit on the council if there was a chance that it could garner the 128 seats in the General Assembly necessary to win a seat. But since Berlin considered those chances slim, it decided to put forward its candidacy.
Besides, Westerwelle said, Germany’s policy is to sit on the Security Council every eight years. It last served on the council in 2011.
Candidates for one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the council – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France are permanent members – are allocated according to regional blocs. As of 2000, Israel became a member of the 28-strong Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group, a move that opened the door to Israel’s possible participation in the Security Council.
Israel is the only country in the region – and one of the few countries in the UN – that has never sat on the body. In September 2005, soon after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon was warmly received in the UN, then-foreign minister Silvan Shalom announced that Israel would vie for a spot in 2019, the next date in which both WEOG slots had not already been claimed – a situation in UN jargon termed a “clean slate.” Until Germany announced its candidacy, only Israel and Belgium were vying for the two slots.
Westerwelle said that it was highly unlikely that no other country from WEOG would vie for a spot in 2019, and it was better for Israel that Germany bid for the slot, rather than a less friendly country.
Despite Westerwelle’s position, Jerusalem does not believe that the “door is closed” on the matter, and that following Germany’s September federal elections and the possibility of a change of some key personalities in the decision-making apparatus in Berlin, there could be a change of heart. In any event, one official said, 2019 is still a long way off.
Either way, the official added, Israel would pursue its candidacy because running for a seat on the Security Council is an important act in Jerusalem’s efforts to fight delegitimization and illustrate Israel’s “normalcy.”