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Is Germany Stealing Israel’s First Ever Seat at UN Security Council?

Every two years the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council elects non-permanent members to add to the five permanent members. The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions or authorize the use of force; thus, which countries sit on the Security Council can have a major impact on world affairs. In 2018, for the first time ever Israel thought they would have a seat. Now Germany is challenging that.

German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas confirmed his country’s bid for a seat in the U.N. Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2019 and 2020. He denied Germany’s candidacy will ruin its support for Israel, who is also eyeing the same seat.

Speaking to the press before his first United Nations visit as Foreign Affairs Minister, Maas stated that Germany’s nomination had been announced long ago and it did not affect its backing for the Jewish state.

“We are not running against anyone; we are running for a seat,” the minister said, responding to criticism from Washington’s candidate for U.S. ambassador to Berlin.

Maas argued that Germany deserves to be considered for the post, citing the country’s contribution to humanitarian assistance, stabilization missions, and climate change. He also noted that Germany is the U.N.’s second largest-providing country for both funds and troops.

“Germany plays an active political, financial and, increasingly, staffing role in the U.N. Not only are we the fourth-largest contributor to the regular and peacekeeping budgets, we are also the second-largest donor to humanitarian assistance and official development aid,” the minister said in a statement.

The last time Germany held a non-permanent seat was in 2011 and 2012. This year, the European nation with a leading economy is running for the role, against Israel and Belgium, for one of the vacant positions to be filled in the 2019 to 2020 period.

The Council is comprised of five permanent members (the U.S., France, Russia, China and the U.K.). The five nations enjoy the power of veto. The U.N. General Assembly elects 10-non permanent members for two-year terms.

Security Council nominees must gain more than two-thirds of the overall vote by the 193-member General Assembly to be elected. The General Assembly will hold an election to choose non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council from 2019 to 2020 on June 8 of this year.

Germany denies making a deal with Israel over a non-permanent seat

Germany’s bid for non-permanent membership drew intense criticism from pro-Israeli and conservative organizations in the U.S.

Tensions over the Security Council seat escalated last week when,  Richard Grenell, Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Germany, stated on Twitter that the U.S. and the U.N. Western European and Others Group (WEOG) arranged a deal in the 1990s to allow Israel to run uncontested for a Security Council seat in 2018.

Grenell claimed it was former the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke who brokered an agreement.

German diplomats dismissed the allegations that such an agreement was made. According to former German Ambassador to the U.N. Heinrich Schumacher, the U.S.’s claims were “absurd.”

Arab nations plan to defy Israel’s bid for a rotating seat at the U.N

Middle Eastern nations are taking a particular interest in Israel’s bid for the U.N. Security Council as it would give Israel a say in U.N. decisions to impose sanctions or authorize the use of force.

Members of the Arab League will gather in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 15 to hold the 29th Arab League Summit. One of the main agendas is to block Israels’ candidacy for the U.N. Security Council rotating membership.

Last year, the Palestine National Autonomous Government asked the Arab League to set up a committee aimed at blocking Israel’s move.

The Palestinian cabinet also condemned the Jewish state’s effort to run for the U.N. seat because of Israel’s violation of the U.N. charter and its refusal to implement all the U.N. resolutions in Palestine, resulting in systematic human rights abuse.

Will Germany share a seat with Israel?

It’s rumored that the U.S. is eager to see Isreal on the Security Council and is trying to work a deal with Germany.

Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council of Foreign Relations, told German press Deutsche Welle, “Germany leapt into this race quite late, and the Trump administration has been trying to find ways to make Berlin compromise.”

He added: “There are very widespread rumors in New York that the US has floated the idea that Germany and Israel could split the seat (taking one year each, as Italy and the Netherlands have just done after effectively drawing in their race).”

Will Israel withdraw in the last minute? Should Germany back down and let Israel run uncontested for the Security Council seat? The vote is not until June and a lot can happen before then.


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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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  1. tina Baumgartner April 18, 2018

    There are three countries interested in two seats which does not equate to Germany “stealing” one of them. Ambassador Grenell claims that a deal was brokered more than 20 years ago, the German Ambassador to the UN at the time calls that claim “absurd” and points out that such a deal more than 20 years in the future is highly unlikely. Without being a diplomat I can see the validity of this objection. Making a binding deal on something so far out seems indeed rather unlikely. Richard Holbrooke is not around to tell his side of the story.
    Including its first membership on the Security Council 1977 -78 Germany has served in that role five times, regularly applying every eight years since 1988. Consequently, Germany announced that it would seek one of the two WOEG seats in the 2018 election as far back as in 2014. Then Secretary of State, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, confirmed that bid in 2016 and Germany began the process of high-level meetings with ambassadors, secretaries and other officials to seek international support.
    So Germany’s bid is nothing new and does no come as a surprise. I also wonder why Belgium is not accused of stealing the seat, they, too, are vying for one of the two. Is it that accusing Germany of being anti-Israel makes for a better headline?

    1. Lauren von Bernuth April 18, 2018

      You make a lot of good points! Why isn’t Belgium accused as well of stealing the seat? I don’t know. Thank you for contributing to the discussion!

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