J'lem sees slight gain in new UNSC composition

Replacement of S. Africa with Rwanda is touted by Israeli official as Iran, Palestinian statehood issues set to be discussed.

United Nations Security Council 311 (R) (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)
United Nations Security Council 311 (R)
(photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)
The five new members of the UN Security Council selected on Thursday may tilt slightly more in Israel’s favor than the countries they are replacing, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said.
Rwanda, Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg and South Korea will now serve for two years on the body that will play a significant role on issues affecting Israel, such as Iran, Syria, and a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition.
They are replacing South Africa, Colombia, Portugal, Germany and India.
The Security Council is made up of five permanent members – the US, Russia, China, France and Britain – and 10 other countries that serve for two years on a rotating basis. Each year five countries are rotated. The five other countries who will be on the Council in 2013 are Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.
The five new countries, which will begin serving on January 1 for two years, needed to win a two-thirds majority in the 193-member General Assembly.
On the plus side, one Israeli source said, is the replacement of South Africa – one of Israel’s harshest critics – with Rwanda, with which Israel has good ties; and the replacement of Portugal with Australia, a staunch friend of Israel.
The official said that Australia’s election to the Security Council proves that a country can be a strong supporter of Israel and still win a coveted seat. Two years ago Canada lost out to Portugal, with some attributing that in part to Ottawa’s strong support of Israel.
The official said that the replacement of India with South Korea is a net plus, but not as dramatic as replacing South Africa with Rwanda. While Israel enjoys strong bilateral ties with both South Korea and India, Seoul has a better voting record on Israel-related issues in international forums than New Delhi.
On the negative side of the ledger is the replacement of Colombia, Israel’s best friend in South America, with Argentina; and the replacement of Germany, one of Israel’s strongest supporters, with Luxembourg, one of the most critical countries of Israel inside the EU.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s envoy to the UN, urged the new members of the Security Council to promote solutions to burning issues on the international agenda, such as efforts to keep Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, and stopping the slaughter in Syria.