What's In Blue

Posted Wed 18 May 2011

Middle East

Tomorrow (Thursday, 19 May), the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, will brief the Security Council at its regular monthly meeting on the Middle East which will be followed by consultations. This comes against the background of a major speech on the Middle East tomorrow by US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US starting on Friday, 20 May, Council members will be awaiting information on the impact of these upcoming events on the prospects of the peace process.

During the open debate on the Middle East on 21 April many member states called for the US to take a strong lead in reviving the process. President Obama’s speech is expected to be on the opportunities for change presented by the events in the region. Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of the US congress on Tuesday, 25 May is also expected to be of interest as he is likely to outline the Israeli position on the major elements of any peace deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently outlined the Palestinian position in a New York Times op-ed on 16 May.

Serry’s briefing may cover developments on the ground, including the 3 May Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and the 15 May al-Nakba protests when Palestinian refugees tried to cross into Israel from Lebanon and Syria resulting in 14 deaths. Some Council members may wish to welcome the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, while others are likely to be more cautious, with the majority likely to take a neutral position. While Serry, as the head of UN Special Coordinator Office (UNSCO) in Jerusalem, will not be briefing on the wider regional developments, it is likely that many Council members will raise the wider situation, including Syria in consultations, especially in light of the 15 May incidents.

Council members are also following the Palestinian diplomatic push for UN membership in September, with some members beginning to think about a possible role for the Council in the case of a continued stalemate in the peace process.

Sign up for What's In Blue emails