Jerusalem is miffed at Germany’s decision to vie for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2019, a move which would weaken Israel’s already distant chances of sitting on that influential body for the first time, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Israel’s and Germany’s respective candidacies will be raised when Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrives in Israel on Friday.
On Saturday he will visit the Palestinian Authority.
One diplomatic official said news that Germany would be vying with Bel- gium and Israel for one of two slots reserved for countries from the UN’s Western European and Others (WEOG) regional grouping was received with “discomfort” in Israel.
The official said that while Germany was very sensitive to Israel’s security needs, “there is not the same kind of attention and sensitivity to Israel’s battle for international legitimacy.”
A seat on the Security Council, or even being a serious candidate for such a seat – especially at a time when the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is trying to delegitimize Israel – is seen in Jerusalem as important because it sends the message that Israel is a “normal country like all others,” the official said.
While the official denied that the issue represented any kind of diplomatic crisis with Berlin, he did say Israel intended to enter into a dialogue with Germany over this matter and convey the importance this two-year membership would have in cementing Israel’s legitimacy at a time when that legitimacy is under attack.
Germany, meanwhile, is interested in eventually securing a permanent seat on the Security Council, is the third-largest contributor to the UN after the US and Japan, and has had a policy over nearly the past three decades of being on the Security Council every eight years. Germany finished its last term on the council in 2011.
One German official said that “active support for the UN has always been a foreign policy priority for Ger- many. This includes regular German applications for one of the non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council, and will be continued.”
The official added that, “as we have proven on so many occasions, Germany always strives to coordinate closely with Israel.”
While Israel began the process of campaigning for the 2019-2020 slot as early as 2005, Germany only began recently because under UN regulations, a country can only declare its candidacy for one of the 10 non-permanent slots after it completes its previous term on the council. Israel was informed at the highest levels of the German decision before it was made public.
Candidates for one of the 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 WEOG region- al 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 Security Council, a body that historically has had a tremendous impact on Israel and the region.
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.
Until Germany announced its candidacy, only Israel and Belgium were vying for the two slots. This did not mean, however, that Israel’s candidacy was assured, since all candidates need to be approved by a two-thirds majority, or 128 countries, in the UN General Assembly – something that would present Israel with a considerable challenge.
Nonetheless, Israel, according to diplomatic sources, had been in conversation with a number of countries – including unnamed countries that would not natural- ly back an Israeli bid – where- by Israel would support their candidacy to a post important to them, if they would back Israel’s candidacy.
It is believed that one of the reasons Germany went ahead and declared its candidacy, even though Israel was in the running, was because it did not feel that Israel would in the end succeed to muster the 128 votes it need- ed to be elected
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!