Gaddafi rips up UN Charter at GA

Gadhafi rips up UN Chart

By E.B. SOLOMONT, JPOST CORRESPONDENT AT THE UNITED NATIONS
September 24, 2009 00:44

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi ripped up a copy of the UN charter; called the Security Council a "terrorism" council; declared a two-state solution in the Middle East untenable, and proposed a lifetime term for US President Barack Obama during a rambling speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Gaddafi, who ascended the podium in shiny bronze robes and carrying a flurry of handwritten notes, praised Obama before attacking the UN Security Council's five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - for using their powers to "terrorize" developing nations. "It should not be called the Security Council," he said through a translator. "It should be called the terror council." While his commentary on the United Nations earned applause from some Arab and African states, many anecdotes touched off bouts of laughter from an amused and befuddled audience. In describing the limited power of the General Assembly compared to the UN Security Council, he likened GA delegates to décor. "You just make a speech and then you disappear," he said. During the speech, Israeli and American officials maintained a presence in their designated spots with low- and mid-level diplomats. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev was not present, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice left the chamber before he began speaking. Gaddafi's visit touched a nerve following Libya's warm welcome to Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC he would not attend Gaddafi's speech. Early Wednesday morning, the Libyan leader was greeted for his first appearance at the General Assembly in 40 years by dueling sets of protesters. A crowd of several hundred supporters - mostly suited members of the Nation of Islam - gathered at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza to welcome the "King of Africa" and call for a new African era led by the man until recently shunned by much of the Western world but now the chairman of the African Union. Across the plaza, dozens of Libyan immigrants staged a counter-rally calling out "down with Gaddafi" and shouting lists of the Libyan dictator's misdeeds, including suppression of free speech and human rights violations. Midway through Gaddafi's address, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inexplicably walked through the room, greeting delegates. He was set to address the assembly late Wednesday, but as the day progressed various member states announced they would boycott his appearance. Iranian Americans, Jews, labor unions and human rights activists have planned a massive "Stand for Freedom in Iran" protest on Thursday afternoon. Israel and Canada announced they would not be present during Ahmadinejad's speech and Germany was prepared to walk out if he said anything controversial. Israeli leaders have called on world leaders to walk out during his speech to protest his call to destroy the Jewish state. As of Wednesday afternoon, US officials did not indicate how they would respond to the Iranian leader's talk. White House aides made sure Obama and Gaddafi would not cross paths even though their speeches were back to back. At the conclusion of Gaddafi's speech, the American diplomats in the audience did not applaud and sat with conspicuously folded hands. Similarly, there was little reaction from the Israeli delegation, even when Gaddafi denounced the two-state solution as "not practical" because the two states overlap. "The solution is an Arab democratic state without religious fanaticism," he said. "Sharon and Arafat are over," he added, declaring that young Israelis and Palestinians want to live in peace together. "They want to live under one state," he said. He added that Arab states were not hostile to Israel, nor were they "enemies of the Jews." "The Jews will one day need the Arabs," he said, pledging that Arab states would protect them. "Look at what everybody else did to the Jews." In his first appearance at the General Assembly in 40 years, Gaddafi also sought to make up for lost time, pontificating in a 90-minute speech that far exceeded the 15-minute time slot. He meandered through his notes, sharing his opinion on major wars in recent decades and lamenting the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King. More than an hour into his speech, Gaddafi demanded his fellow delegates pay attention to his speech. He accused them of being jetlagged due to their long trips to the United States. Grimacing at his own sleepless night, he proposed moving the United Nations headquarters from New York to Libya or China. America, he said, had been bearing the undue burden of providing security to foreign leaders and it has become a terrorist target. "We want to relieve American from this worry," he explained. However outlandish, the suggestion followed Gaddafi's struggle to find lodging during his stay. Several New York City hotels reportedly turned him away. On Tuesday, the Libyan government pitched a tent on property in New York reportedly leased from Donald Trump, a US State Department confirmed. Gaddafi intends to use the tent for entertaining and he slept at the Libyan Mission before his GA address. Previously, New York City refused a request for the Libyans to pitch Gaddafi's tent in Central Park and residents of Englewood, New Jersey, opposed a second proposal to stay there. Neighbors in Bedford, New York, were similarly outraged. The town issued a stop-work order late Tuesday, according to lawyer Joel Sachs, who said he believes the erection of a tent violates "several property codes and laws. "There is no such thing as diplomatic immunity when it comes to complying with local laws and ordinances," Sachs said. "This is a private piece of property and they have to comply with the laws of this municipality." The Trump Organization said Trump did not rent property to Gaddafi. Part of the estate "was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners, who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Gaddafi. We are looking into the matter." In a statement, US Rep. Nita Lowey criticized the welcome extended to Megrahi. Gaddafi's apparent lack of remorse for the bombing was "unwelcome throughout the New York area," she said. Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.


Related Content

May 23, 2018
Israeli political campaigners embroiled in Romanian ‘spy scandal’

By LAHAV HARKOV