Israel ‘upset’ over German bid for coveted Security Council slot

Source tells Channel 2 that Berlin, given its history, should not try to deny Israel a temporary seat on panel starting in 2019

UN Security Council members vote during a March meeting  (photo credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews/File)
UN Security Council members vote during a March meeting (photo credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews/File)

Israeli officials are reportedly at odds with Germany over the fact that the two countries are competing for a spot on the United Nations Security Council in 2019.

The fact that Berlin is throwing its hat in the ring complicates Jerusalem’s chances of ascending to a two-year rotation on the council for the first time.

Although Israel has been anticipating its opportunity to get the seat for several years, Germany only just recently announced its candidacy, which means that three countries — Belgium, Israel, and Germany — are competing for two possible slots.

Germany recently ended a two-year stint as a non veto-wielding member of the panel.

Channel 2 news, citing unnamed Israeli officials, reported that Jerusalem was “critical” and “upset” by Germany’s decision, and that the issue will be raised during German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s visit to the region on Friday.

An unnamed Israeli source was quoted by the station saying Germany, of all countries, shouldn’t try to deny Israel a spot.

The Jerusalem Post first reported the story early Monday.

Israel sees the seat as a tool to combat delegitimization attempts and the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement.

But German officials say that since the country is the UN’s third-biggest financial contributor and is vying for a permanent seat on the council, it has been submitting candidacies every eight years for 25 years.

“This did not come as a surprise to anyone, because this is the usual eight-year rhythm in which Germany runs for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council,” the spokesman of the German Foreign Ministry, Andreas Peschke, said Monday.

Germany has always been supportive of Israel’s attempt to play a more significant role in the UN, including advocating its membership in the WEOG, but in this particular case it had its own vital interest to think of first, German officials said.

Germany and Israel are part of the UN’s Western European and Others regional group, known by the acronym WEOG. Jerusalem became a member in 2000, which paved the way for its possible membership in the Security Council.

Germany only recently announced its candidacy because it is unusual for countries to declare their intention to run again before their current term is over. Germany’s last term in the Security Council ended on January 1, 2013. Furthermore, Berlin informed Jerusalem about its intention to run for a seat before publicly announcing it, officials said, wondering why some Israeli officials now seem angry about it.

Germany’s candidacy “will not hurt our close partnership with Israel. This partnership is of course beyond any discussion,” Peschke emphasized.

In 2005, Israel announced that it would try to obtain the spot in 2019 — the next time both WOEG seats weren’t claimed — after prime minister Ariel Sharon pulled out of Gaza, which won Israel kudos in the international arena.

Candidacy to the body requires approval from two-thirds of the UN General Assembly, or 128 countries. Israel, which has repeatedly faced censure from the international body, would have to wage an uphill battle to garner enough support.

In 2010, Canada lost a bid for one of the seats, which some blamed on Ottawa’s friendly stance toward Israel, among other things. Germany ultimately won that seat, gaining its fifth term on the panel.

Germany is also seeking a permanent seat on the council, along with India, Brazil and Japan. Five countries are currently permanent members: the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain.

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