Free Gaza expedition reportedly about to turn into Gaza waters – contradictory message appears on website, then is pulled

Reporting from Ashdod Marina in southern Israel about 30 minutes ago, Free Gaza spokeswoman Angela Godfrey-Goldstein says in an email sent to journalists that the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, two converted fishing boats sailing from Cyprus to Gaza, “are now about to turn into Gazan waters, and may God speed them safe to land”.

And, she said, despite all the reported problems, which include communications black-outs and sea-sicknesses, and in rough waves with a storm brewing, the “Estimated time of arrival according to Jeff Halper, with whom I finally managed to speak on a satellite phone whose number wasn’t published and is now used in emergency, is 5 pm – 7 pm”.

And, she added, “I hear that 20 boats left Gaza Harbour to welcome FREE GAZA and LIBERTY, but are now doing a U-turn to go back … apparently due to warning shots having indeed been fired. Palestinians in Gaza said earlier there was NO ISRAELI NAVAL PRESENCE on the horizon”…

Now, she says, she is wondering how, if the boats actually manage to arrive in Gaza, “How they then get out? — Chapter Two of this ongoing saga …. But maybe today freedom and justice will warm a few Palestinian hearts” …

According to what she’s heard, Godfrey-Goldstein says there are some 200,000 Gazans on the beach, waiting to receive the FREE GAZA expedition, and “it’s obvious there’s a demonstration there, with extreme excitement”.

Though spirits are obviously high, this is the crucial moment — when the ships are about to leave international waters to enter Gaza’s territorial waters, which are under Israeli security control.

LATEST UPDATE: After the confusion reported just below in this post, and the pulling of an apparently wrong if not fictitious (maybe even hacked???) post on the Free Gaza website, this email above is now posted on the Free Gaza website
here .


Since the email quoted above arrived just a few minutes ago (was it authentic, or disinformation???), this has been posted on the Free Gaza website: Urgent: Request for International Community Intervention — Free Gaza Movement Boat Flotilla in Need of Immediate Assistance.

The website post says that the two Free Gaza expedition boats “are now sailing with damaged navigation systems. As such, they are in jeopardy of drifting off course and out of international waters. In addition they have encountering rough seas, with waves over 3 meters high … We request that all individuals and organisations make representation to the government of Israel and the Israeli navy to protect the lives of the civilians aboard the two ships, SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza which are sailing under the Greek flag”. This posting — which apparently contradicts the email message just received — can be read in full on the Free Gaza website

LATEST UPDATE: This message has now been pulled off the website — could the Free Gaza website been hacked?????


Now the Free Gaza website — cleansed of the post quoted above — is reporting the following location for the ships in the expedition: Latitude:31.7319, Longitude:34.1069 [Time:08/23/2008 12:21:18 (GMT), or 3:21 pm in the area]

As noted in yesterday’s post, Israel’s SECURITY AREA K has the following coordinates: (31° 41’•5N., 34° 17’•2E). So, the ships are very, very near SECURITY AREA K

Free Gaza expedition now reports electronic jamming measures

The Free Gaza expedition of two ships that left Cyprus Friday morning heading for the Gaza Strip is now reporting that electronic jamming measures have started, directed apparently against them.

A statement reports that “At 10am this morning, the Cyprus team of the Free Gaza Movement was able to briefly speak with our people on board the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty. They are all fine, and they asked us to release the following statement: ‘The electronic systems which guarantee our safety aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty have been jammed and scrambled. Both ships are flying Greek flags, and are in international waters. We are the victims of electronic piracy. We are currently in GMS P area A2 and we are relying on our satellite communications equipment to make a distress call, if needed … We are currently experiencing rough sea conditions…’ ” The full statement can be seen on the website here .

UPDATE: a scrolling Haaretz headline at 12:12 Jerusalem time says that AP has reported that “Organizers of Gaza boat protest say they have lost contact with the vessels” — but it’s probably based on the same information reported by Free Gaza, as shown above.

UPDATE: Another AP story published now on the Haaretz website says that a Free Gaza spokesperson had said that she expected the vessels to reach Gaza at around 11 a.m. Jerusalem time — which would have been an hour and a half ago.

This same AP story also reports that “In Gaza City, a small boat zoomed off the coast waving a Palestinian flag as a crowd of activists and journalists gathered in the tiny fishing port hoping to glimpse the vessels. ‘I brought the kids so if they (the activists) arrive, I can tell them welcome – and thank you for not forgetting us, said Jamila Hassan, a 42-year-old Gaza resident who brought along her 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter to the port … In Gaza, dozens of community activists gathered at the local fishing port, holding English and Arabic banners to welcome the two boats. Some 20 small fishing boats decked in Palestinian flags were on standby to take a delegation of reporters and activists to greet the Free Gaza activists at sea. Hamas policemen controlled traffic in and out of the port. Youths leaped off high rocks into deep water nearby. Two large tents were set up for people to watch the scene. ‘Nobody thinks that these boats will break the siege in a practical way, but this is a moral message – what is happening (in Gaza) is illegal and inhumane, and must be halted’, said Raji Sourani, a prominent human rights activist … Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian supplies into Gaza, causing widespread shortages of fuel, electricity and basic goods. Only some people are allowed to leave Gaza for medical care, jobs abroad and the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia [n.b., over 200 sick people have died because of reported delays or refusals by the IDF to issue permits for them to leave Gaza. Last year, at least two pilgrims died in chaos at the border when returning from the annual Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, and thousands were stranded for days]. Under a June truce deal which halted a deadly cycle of bruising Palestinian rocket attacks and deadly Israel airstrikes, Israel has pledged to ease the blockade, but Palestinians say the flow of goods into Gaza remains insufficient and there has been little improvement in the quality of life. Israel has periodically closed the cargo crossings in response to sporadic Palestinian rocket fire that violated the truce”. This AP report can be read on Haaretz’s website here .

"Free Gaza" ships set sail from Cyprus

The Free Gaza expedition’s two ships, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, have set sail at 9:06 am this morning towards Gaza, according to the group’s website.

A group of 46 activists from around the world are said to be on board.

The trip has been in preparation for over a year. The stated aim is to “break the siege” on Gaza.

Gaza’s territorial waters, or maritime space, is under total Israeli control — this was a fact before, but agreed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 1994 in the Oslo Accords.

Israel’s security control of the Mediterranean Sea off Gaza has continued even after Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, in contradiction to the adamant argumentation of many Israeli officials that Gaza is no longer “occupied”. However, the fact that Israel controls Gaza’s maritime space is one of the main criteria used in international law to determine that a situation of occupation persists.

Gaza, meanwhile, is now under the control of Hamas, which is not part of the PLO — at least not yet (the main obstacle appears to be the number of seats Hamas would be accorded in the Palestine National Council). And the Palestinian Authority, set up under the Oslo Accords, has been silent.

Whatever the outcome of this Free Gaza expedition, one of the main effects will be to probe and expose this complicated and rather discrete if not generally hidden situation.

The following pre-“disengagement” Notice to Mariners issued by the Israeli Navy apparently still applies:

From a note to a Notice to Mariners 2846/2004
Dated 6 November 2004 – edition 25/2004
(31° 41’•5N., 34° 17’•2E)
Vessels wishing to pass through Security Area
K must obtain permission from the Israeli Navy
on VHF channel 16; they should then cross the
area keeping a minimum distance of 3 miles
from, and parallel to, the coast.

(For a description of Security Area K, see excerpt from Oslo Accords at the bottom of this post.)

NOTE: Israel uses as its reference British Admiralty naval navigation chart 2634 – Beirut to Gaza. Israel requires prior authorization and notification for vessel at 100 nautical miles (25 NM for smaller vessels), and designates specific sea channels for passage. There must be radio contact with the Israeli Navy at 25 NM for all vessels.

According to the UN Law of the Sea website, Israel measures its baseline from a low-water line. Though previously claiming a 6-mile territorial sea, Israel now claims a 12-mile territorial sea, and a Continental shelf outer limit to the depth of exploitability.

Israel is not a party to the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, but — like the Palestine Liberation Organization, though presumably for different reasons — it did sign the Final Act.

Not incidentally, when the PLO was given observer status at the United Nations, by UN General Assembly Resolution 3237 (XXIX) of 22 November 1974, one of the justifications was the invitation extended by the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea to the PLO “to participate in its deliberations as an observer”.

Another Notice to Mariners (No. T/ 1/ 2005), issued by the Israeli Ministry of Transport on 28 March 2005, states: “All ships bound for any Israeli Mediterranean Port are hereby advised to approach the Israeli coast only through the assigned corridors marked on the navigational chart BA-2634. All traffic along the Israeli coast (NNE-SSW) must follow within the ‘Coastal Route’ also marked on chart BA-2634. All vessels navigating within Israeli territorial waters (12NM) are advised not to exceed a maximum speed of 15 (fifteen) knots”.

While Israeli officials continue to insist that Gaza is no longer occupied, these navigational rules apparently also apply to the Israeli-controlled maritime space off Gaza.

For those following the Free Gaza expedition’s ships progress on the Google map, Gaza’s geographic coordinates are: 31 25 N, 34 20 E

The Free Gaza announcement today stated that “Our mission is to expose the illegality of Israel’s actions, and to break through the siege in order to express our solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza (and of the occupied Palestinian territory as a whole) and to create a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. Israel claims that since the ‘disengagement’ in 2005 it no longer occupies Gaza. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international human rights organizations reject this claim since Israel still exerts effective control over Gaza. As an Occupying Power, Israel has a responsibility for the well-being of the people of Gaza under the provisions of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has abused its control and responsibilities by wrongfully obstructing vital supplies and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. As Israel’s 41-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip defies international consensus, and because Israel has grossly violated its obligations, we do not recognize Israel’s right to stop us outside its own territorial waters, which we will not be approaching. To remove any ‘security’ pretense that Israel may raise, we have had our boats inspected and certified by Cypriot authorities that they carry no arms or contraband of any kind. We have invited Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to join us on our voyage and, in fact, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has itself told us the Israeli government ‘assume[s] that your intentions are good’.”

Foreign Minister Livni was not asked a single question about this imminent event in a press conference she gave to members of the Foreign Press Association in Israel on Thursday at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

This is a tough one. How will the Israeli authorities handle this challenge? So far, the ships have not been blown up in port, and nobody has been assassinated. But, the general expectation is that these ships will not be able to sail up to Gaza’s coast, and the international activists will not be allowed to disembark triumphantly there.

A story in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper nearly a week ago reported that “Defense officials favor forcefully blocking two boats which a group of U.S.-based activists plan to sail to Gaza to protest what they call ‘the Israeli siege on the Strip’, Haaretz has learned. According to the Foreign Ministry, Israel is within its rights to use force against the seafarers … [This situation has] prompted defense officials to hold a series of discussions; they said allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent. But the Israel Navy has not yet received any instructions on how to treat the vessels. A position paper by the Foreign Ministry’s legal department says Israel has the right to use force against the demonstrators as part of the Oslo Accords, which names Israel as responsible for Gaza’s territorial waters. An official in Jerusalem said the Foreign Ministry’s paper means that security forces could detain the vessels upon entry to Gaza’s territorial waters, arrest the passengers and haul the ship to Israel, where the detainees could be interrogated”. This Haaretz report can be read in full here .

The Jerusalem Post reported a day later that “The navy has been ordered to turn back two boats carrying 44 pro-Palestinian foreign activists who are attempting to ‘break the siege of Gaza’, The Jerusalem Post has learned…Officials said the navy had a number of options in dealing with the boats, which have set out from Crete, en route to Gaza, via a stop-over in Cyprus… Israeli officials said Sunday that the Mediterranean waters around Gaza fell under Israeli sovereignty due to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Gaza has also been declared a combat zone, giving the navy the legal right to patrol the sea around the Strip, the officials said … The boat journey was largely a publicity stunt, the Israeli officials said, adding that its organizers were hungry for international and Israeli media attention”. The full JPOST report can be read here .

Now the JPost is reporting that Free Gaza organizer Paul Larudee has said that those on board plan “to deliver 200 hearing aids to a Palestinian charity for children and hand out 5,000 balloons … Israeli officials said the delivery was illegal but they have refused to publicly say what the response would be if the activists tried to break the blockade. However, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the navy has been ordered to turn back the boats. Larudee said it was ‘highly unlikely’ the navy would fire on the boats to stop them. But he said the group expected Israeli authorities to intercept the boats and arrest those onboard. Larudee said the group would contest any arrests in court on the premise that Israel committed kidnapping”. Today’s report in the JPost can be read in full here .

On 18 August, an official of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Noam Katz (Director, Public Relations Department) wrote to the Free Gaza group saying that “in fact, the result of your action is that you are supporting the regime of a terrorist organization in Gaza, an organization dedicated to non-recognition of the State of Israel and its right to exist … In this protest voyage to Gaza , you seek to remove legitimate pressure on the Hamas government and to violate the conditions of the international community; therefore we cannot cooperate with your efforts … We would like to point out that the area to which you are planning to sail is the subject of an advisory notice that has been published by the Israeli Navy, which warns all foreign vessels to remain clear of the designated maritime zone off the coast of Gaza in light of the current security situation. We have received information that you are planning to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. We would like to bring to your attention that the transfer of humanitarian aid to Israel is effected, at present, through agreed-upon channels, and the Israeli authorities will ensure that the shipment reaches its destination via the land crossing points. We will be happy to assist you in this endeavor. If your intentions are good, please choose this way; if you do not intend to deliver the humanitarian aid via Israel, this proves that your goal is political and constitutes the legitimization of a terrorist organization”. The full text can be read on the Free Gaza website here .


This map of Gaza’s (and Palestine’s) maritime space, attached to two agreements signed under the Oslo Process (the 1994 ‘Gaza-Jericho first’ Agreement, and subsequently confirmed in the 1995 Israel-Palestinian Interim Arrangements Agreements) allocates a 20 mile (32 km) fishing /economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea off Gaza. The map, used as the reference for both Agreements, was signed by Israel’s then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yasser Arafat, and witnessed by the foreign ministers of the United States and the Soviet Union. It is available from the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry here

Map No. 6 in 1994 document and Map No. 8 in 1995 document

The Free Gaza statement adds that “We are human rights activists, invited to visit Gaza by our Palestinian partners, and each of us has vowed to do no violence, in either word or deed. If Israel chooses to forcibly stop and search our ships, we will not forcibly resist. Such a search will be under duress and with our formal protest. After such a search, we fully expect the Israeli navy to stand aside, as we continue peacefully to Gaza. If we are arrested and brought to Israel, we will protest and prosecute our kidnapping in the appropriate forums. It is our purpose to show the power that ordinary citizens of the world have when they organize together to stand against injustice. Let there be no doubt: the policies of repression against the civilian population of Gaza represent gross violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, and constitute war crimes. The goal of our voyage is to break the illegal siege on the people of Gaza as a step toward ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine”.

The full announcement that this expedition has set sail — plus updates and occasional live streaming of images from the two ships — can be viewed on the Free Gaza website here.

“Although the Gaza Strip has a long Mediterranean Sea coastline, it has no seaport that would enable Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to conduct foreign trade by sea without going through Israeli ports. The idea of constructing a seaport for Gaza was discussed in almost all agreements reached by Israel and the Palestinians as part of the peace process, the sides ‘recognizing the great importance of Gaza Port for Palestinian economic growth and for increased Palestinian trade’. In the Declaration of Principles, signed in September 1993, the parties agreed for the first time to establish a joint committee to ‘set the guidelines’ for implementing the idea. After six years of foot-dragging, Israel agreed, in the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, signed in September 1999, to allow the Palestinian Authority to ‘begin construction work on the seaport’. According to the memorandum, the two sides agree that the Gaza seaport would not be used at all before a joint protocol on the port is reached by the parties…’ The parties have never signed such a protocol. In the summer of 2000, work began on constructing the infrastructure of the seaport on the coast of Gaza City. The costs were funded by the Donor States. However, in October, the Israeli Air Force bombed the building site in response to an incident in Ramallah where a Palestinian mob killed two Israel soldiers. Following this, the Donor States ceased funding the project. The work on the port stopped and has not recommenced.”
“One Big Prison”, HaMoked report, (pages 64-65) here



U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice helped broker a 15 November 2005 agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on Movement and on Access to Gaza, which decided, among other things, that: “Construction of a seaport can commence. The GoI (Government of Israel) will undertake to assure donors that it will not interfere with operation of the port [emphasis added here]. The parties will establish a U.S.-led tripartite committee to develop security and other relevant arrangements for the port prior to its opening. The 3rd party model to be used at Rafah will provide the basis for this work.” Excerpted from a document entitled “Israel, Palestinians Agree on Two Documents on Movement, Access: Pacts affect movement in Palestinian Territories, crossings at Egypt border”, U.S. Department of State – formerly here and now here and here

Yesterday afternoon in Cyprus, the passengers and crew of the SS FREE GAZA and the SS LIBERTY held a memorial service in Larnaca’s commercial port, to “commemorate the 14 fishermen of Gaza who have been killed by the Israeli Navy over the past four years as they were fishing off their coast … (and) the 34 American sailors killed aboard the US LIBERTY … attacked by Israeli fighter jets and submarines for 75 minutes on June 8, 1967…” This news item can be read in full here.


From the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement’s Annex I, “Protocol Concerning Redeployment and Security Arrangements”, this document contains a few slight updates from the earlier agreement reached in 1994, but no changes in the designation or description of the various zones:

Security along the Coastline to the Sea of Gaza
1. Maritime Activity Zones
a. Extent of Maritime Activity Zones
The sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip will be divided into three Maritime Activity Zones, K, L, and M as shown on map No. 8 attached to this Agreement, and as detailed below:
(1) Zones K and M
(a) Zone K extends to 20 nautical miles in the sea from the coast in the northern part of the sea of Gaza and 1.5 nautical miles wide southwards.
(b) Zone M extends to 20 nautical miles in the sea from the coast, and one (1) nautical mile wide from the Egyptian waters.
(c) Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, Zones K and M will be closed areas, in which navigation will be restricted to activity of the Israel Navy.
(2) Zone L
(a) Zone L bounded to the south by Zone M and to the north by Zone K extends 20 nautical miles into the sea from the coast.
(b) Zone L will be open for fishing, recreation and economic activities, in accordance with the following provisions:
(i) Fishing boats will not exit Zone L into the open sea and may have engines of up to a limit of 25 HP for outboard motors and up to a maximum speed of 18 knots for inboard motors. Four months after the signing of this Agreement the Maritime Coordination and Cooperation Center (hereinafter “the MC”), as referred to in paragraph 3 below, will consider raising the limit for outboard motors up to 40 hp. in accordance with the types of the boats. The boats will neither carry weapons nor ammunition nor will they fish with the use of explosives.
(ii) Recreational boats will be permitted to sail up to a distance of 6 nautical miles from the coast unless, in special cases, otherwise agreed within the Maritime Coordination and Cooperation Center as referred to in paragraph 3 below. Recreational boats may have engines up to a limit of 10 horsepower. Marine motor bikes and water jets will neither be introduced into Zone L nor be operated therein.
(iii) Yachts may sail up to a distance of 6 nautical miles from the coast at a maximum speed of 15 knots.
(iv) Foreign vessels entering Zone L will not approach closer than 12 nautical miles from the coast except as regards activities covered in paragraph 4 below.
b. General Rules of the Maritime Activity Zones
(1) The aforementioned fishing boats and recreational boats and their skippers sailing in Zone L shall carry licenses issued by the Council, the format and standards of which will be coordinated through the JSC.
(2) The boats shall have identification markings determined by the Council. The Israeli authorities will be notified through the JSC of these identification markings.
(3) Residents of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip fishing in Zone L will carry Israeli licenses and vessel permits.
(4) As part of Israel’s responsibilities for safety and security within the three Maritime Activity Zones, Israel Navy vessels may sail throughout these zones, as necessary and without limitations, and may take any measures necessary against vessels suspected of being used for terrorist activities or for smuggling arms, ammunition, drugs, goods, of for any other illegal activity. The Palestinian Police will be notified of such actions, and the ensuing procedures will be coordinated through the MC…”

The full text can be consulted on the website of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs here .

NOW they notice!

Haaretz reported Friday, with some surprise, that Gaza sewage has been pumped straight into the Mediterranean since last January, when the Gaza power plant last had to shut down for lack of fuel, and it was feared that sudden electricity outages could cause catastrophic sewage flooding in Gaza that might even threaten human life (as it did just over a year ago).

Akiva Eldar reported in Haaretz that a UN report says that “Millions of liters of sewage have been released over the past three months into the Mediterranean Sea from the Gaza Strip, according to a new United Nations report. According to the report, an estimated 50-60 million liters of waste have been pumped into the sea. This was done in an effort to prevent an overflow of sewage in residential areas. Normally, the sewage is pumped to prearranged sites for treatment, but the shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip has caused disruptions in the supply of electricity. These shortages, lack of sufficient quantities of chemicals necessary for treating sewage, and spare parts, has led the Gaza officials to pump the waste into the sea. The report prepared by Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) raises concerns that the untreated sewage is carrying Escherichia coli (e. coli) bacteria into the sea which may affect those swimming in its waters … The authors of the report also wrote that in areas where the sewage is pumped into the sea, the color of the water is dark brown and a strong odor emanates. Fishermen in Gaza bay claim the sewage has killed much of the fish in the area … The treatment plant requires constant electrical supply, and the OCHA report calls on Israel to lift its restrictions on fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip. OCHA says that unless electricity can run continuously it is impossible to make regular use of the sanitation equipment in the Strip. The UN is also calling on Israel to allow the transfer of materials and spare parts that are necessary to upgrade the sewage system, and which would allow the construction of three modern sewage treatment stations in the Strip”. This article can be read in full in Haaretz here .

A separate report in the Jerusalem Post says that “Gaza’s water authority has dumped 60 million liters of partially treated and untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea since January 24, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report released on Wednesday. ‘The sewage discharge is contaminating Gaza seawater and posing health risks for bathers and consumers of seafood. The sewage flows northward to Israeli coasts, including near the Ashkelon desalination plant. Urgent studies are needed to examine the extent of the impact’, the report reads. The report’s authors blamed Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip for the Gazans’ inability to treat the sewage … The UN said Gaza’s water authority, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, required 14 days of uninterrupted electricity to treat the sewage. The utility provides more than 130 million cubic meters of water per year, according to the report, 80 percent of which ends up as sewage. Moreover, because of the restrictions on imports and exports into and out of the Strip, spare parts needed to repair the sewage treatment plants had not been allowed in”…

Then, the JPost article contains defensive and misleading information such as: “a security source familiar with the situation told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the vast majority of Gaza’s electrical needs were being met by Israel and Egypt. ‘Gaza is receiving 141 megawatts a day out of [its normal requirements of] 200 megawatts at this time from Israel and Egypt’, the source said”. This JPost article can be read in full here .

OK. Let’s take this apart a little bit:
(1) If Gaza is receiving 141 MW a day at this time from Israel and Egypt, that means Israel is providing 124 MW of directly supplied electricity daily from Ashdod or Ashkelon — I think Ashkelon, but both have been reported with great assurance and authority in the Israeli media. And that would mean that Israel has rescinded the electricity cuts that the Israeli military authorized to start on 7 February — and it would only have done so if it realized that any electricity cuts could cause a potentially catastrophic humanitarian crisis that the Israeli military promised it will avoid.

(2) Gaza’s requirements are more than 200 MW a day — they were 240 MW in the winter, and may be just slightly less now, but will rise again as the summer heat sets in. Gaza has been experiencing at least 20% electricity shortfalls, which cause constant brown-outs and black-outs. But, let’s just go along with what this Israeli security source says for a moment: If Gaza normally requires 200 MW per day, and Israel and Egpyt are together supplying 141 MW a day, that means that somewhere, somehow, Gaza must be generating at least 59 MW per day on its own. However, it has not been able to do so, because the Israeli military-ordered fuel cuts affecting Gaza’s only power plant, which operates on Israeli-supplied, European-financed industrial diesel fuel, have restricted production to an average of 45-50 MW per day. Lately, it has only been able to generate 40 MW per day, because fuel deliveries have been short, because the Israeli military says there have been attacks from Gaza on the fuel transfer terminal at Nahal Oz. But, as Sari Bashi, executive director of the Israeli human rights organization GISHA — who has led a fight against these fuel and electricity cuts — says, “if the military can supply some fuel, why can’t it supply enough?”

BUT, we’ve been writing about this for months …

Then, this JPost article also says that Hamas should find a solution.

And, it then goes on to argue, in a hallucinatory fantasy, that sewage has been dumped from Gaza into the sea for years, so this is nothing new, and that the Gazans (now living under tightening Israeli sanctions) should cheerfully recycle this sewage waste water for agriculture, as happy Israelis are doing.

Again, let’s take this apart:
(1) sewage flowed into the sea from Gaza for years, yes, before the Oslo Peace Process started in 1993. After that, donors paid for various sanitation installations to treat this sewage. SOme of these installations have been damaged during IDF attacks. Now, those that were in working order have now been put out of service by the Israeli military-ordered fuel cuts, and by the lack of spare parts — again, banned by the IDF under its sanctions program against Hamas in Gaza — to conduct normal mantanence operations.

The JPost article reports that the spokesman for Israel’s Water Authority, Uri Schor, told its reporter that “The State of Israel assists in various ways to the pumping and water distribution and to the continued operation of the sewage treatment plants. That assistance includes approval to transfer most of equipment the Palestinian Authority has requested – the rest is in the process of being verified – and all the diesel fuel necessary to run the plants“. The JPOst adds, faithfully, that “Schor added: ‘These plants had not been affected by any cutbacks to electricity’ [and] Schor suggested the PA follow Israel’s example and use treated sewage water for agriculture in place of potable water. ‘Right now, 70% of Israel’s sewage is treated and recycled, and the plan is to recycle all of it. In the PA, all of the agriculture uses freshwater, and using recycled sewage water would enable the Palestinians to redirect tens of millions of cubic meters of water for household use’, he said. Responsible management by the PA would add a respectable amount of expensive freshwater to their supply, he said”…

Yes, sure, but the PA includes the West Bank, which is not under these Israeli military-controlled sanctions that affect Gaza, and except that the supposed freshwater in Gaza is brackish because of seawater infusions due to overpumping of the water tables — some of the overpumping was/is being done by Israel …

New report on where Iranian Navy seized British maritime personnel in waters


With a later UPDATE from the comment below by ALETHEIA KALLOS/ MD to clarify — i repeat the actual iranian position was in iranian territorial waters by any reckoning & it seems to me the mod should still like to know the real truth of this
rather than just the latest supposed truth …

from todays times of london

Report reveals Iran seized British sailors in disputed

Fifteen British sailors and Marines were seized by
Iran in internationally disputed waters and not in
Iraq’s maritime territory as Parliament was told,
according to new official documents released to The

The Britons were seized because the US-led coalition
designated a sea boundary for Iran’s territorial
waters without telling the Iranians where it was,
internal Ministry of Defence briefing papers reveal.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information
Act detail for the first time the blunders last spring
that led to what an all-party committee of MPs came to
describe as a “national embarrassment”.

The captured 14 men and one woman were paraded on
Iranian TV for a fortnight before being freed a year
ago by a smiling President Ahmadinejad, who gave them
new suits and bags of presents.

Newly released Ministry of Defence documents state

— The arrests took place in waters that are not
internationally agreed as Iraqi;

— The coalition unilaterally designated a dividing
line between Iraqi and Iranian waters in the Gulf
without telling Iran where it was;

— The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ coastal protection
vessels were crossing this invisible line at a rate of
three times a week; It was the British who apparently
raised their weapons first before the Iranian gunboats
came alongside;

— The cornered British, surrounded by heavily armed
Iranians, made a hopeless last-minute radio plea for a
helicopter to come back and provide air cover.

Iran always claimed that it had arrested the Britons
for violating its territorial integrity.

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, repeatedly told the
Commons that the personnel were seized in Iraqi

The MoD, in a televised briefing by Vice-Admiral
Charles Style, the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff,
produced a map showing a line in the sea called
“Iraq/Iran Territorial Water Boundary”. A location was
given for the capture of the Britons inside what the
chart said were “Iraq territorial waters”. But the
newly released top-level internal briefing accepts
that no such border exists.

The report, addressed to Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock
Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, blames the
incident on the absence of an agreed boundary and a
failure to coordinate between Iraq, Iran and the

Under the heading “Why the incident occurred”, the
report examines the history of a border that has been
disputed since a treaty between the Persian and
Ottoman empires in 1639.

Professor Robert Springborg, of the School of Oriental
and African Studies, said yesterday that it was
negligent to fail to clarify with the Iranians where
the notional boundary was.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, The Times made
requests about the events. The MoD released two
documents, although parts are censored. One is the
report to Sir Jock dated April 13, 2007, a week after
the Britons returned home unharmed. It was compiled
after they had been debriefed. The other is the
communications log between the mother ship HMS
Cornwall and the two seaboats used by the boarding

What they said

“There is no doubt that HMS Cornwall was operating in
Iraqi waters and that the incident itself took place
in Iraqi waters . . . In the early days the Iranians
provided us with a set of coordinates, and asserted
that was where the event took place, but when we told
them the coordinates were in Iraqi waters they changed
that set and found one in their own waters. I do not
think that even they sustain the position that the
incident took place anywhere other than in Iraqi

Des Browne, Defence Secretary, House of Commons, June
16, 2007

“Since the outset of the Iraq-Iran War there has been
no formal ratified TTW [territorial waters] agreement
in force between Iraq and Iran . . . In the absence of
any formal agreement, the coalition tactical
demarcation (the Op Line) is used as a notional TTW
boundary. It is a US NAVCENT [US Naval Forces Central
Command] construct based on an extension of the
Algiers accord demarcation line beyond the mouth of
the Shatt al-Arab [waterway] into the NAG [northern
Arabian Gulf]. While it may be assumed that the
Iranians must be aware of some form of operational
boundary, the exact coordinates to the Op Line have
not been published to Iran.”

MoD report to the Chief of the Defence Staff under the
heading: ‘Why the incident occurred’, dated April 13,
2007, released to The Times under the FoI

the online version of the article inexplicably ends in
midflight there

& you may recall some critical questions were raised
here at the time
for example

yet even now
i still dont see anyone getting to the likeliest truth
of the matter
which is that the brits just inadvertently dropped the
decimal seconds from one of the iranian arabic coords

& later
when the correct coords were reiterated by the
the brits faulted them for supposedly changing their

& that the marines thus really were captured at
martins position 3 here

but does anyone here now doubt that this is what
actually happened
even if the mod still doesnt realize it

Confusion reigns about Iran’s claim that UK service personnel were captured in Iranian waters

Following research and a careful construction of the median line between the two charted coastlines, one academic specialist at the International Boundaries Research Unit of Durham University in the U.K. has posted an analysis, with a map, of the Iran-Iraq maritime boundary on this site:

The issue is also being hotly debated on this blog:
The author of this blog, Craig Murray, writes: “I might even know something about it myself, having been Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1989 to 1992, and having been personally responsible in the Embargo Surveillance Centre for getting individual real time clearance for the Royal Navy to board specific vessels in these waters. As I feared, Blair adopted the stupid and confrontational approach of publishing maps ignoring the boundary dispute, thus claiming a very blurred situation is crystal clear and the Iranians totally in the wrong. This has in turn notched the Iranians up another twist in their own spiral of intransigence and stupidity.
Both the British and the Iranian governments are milking this for maximum propaganda value and playing to their respective galleries. Neither has any real care at all for either the British captives or the thousands who could die in Iran and Basra if this gets out of hand…It is essential now for both sides to back down. No solution is possible if either side continues to insist that the other is completely in the wrong and they are completely in the right. And the first step towards finding a peaceful way out, is to acknowledge the self-evident truth that maritime boundaries are disputed and problematic in this area. Both sides can therefore accept that the other acted in good faith with regard to their view of where the boundary was. They can also accept that boats move about and all the coordinates given by either party were also in good faith. The captives should be immediately released and, to international acclamation, Iran and Iraq, which now are good neighbours, should appoint a joint panel of judges to arbitrate a maritime boundary and settle this boundary dispute.”

One comment on this post says: “if the Iranians dispute the line as drawn, why – when it was pointed out that their initial claim placed them on the wrong side of it – did they change their minds about where they had made the capture?”

Craig Murray replies to another comment that: “the boundary drawn by the British MOD is a boundary that could be justified under the criteria of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. It would be perfectly possible to draw several other boundaries that might also be justified by the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea … [W]ere I an Iranian negotiator … I would certainly argue, given the greater eastward projection of the Iranian coast, that the British proposed boundary line needs to shift south west. Quite simply, this is not an obvious median line. Finally, arguments regarding tide lines and sands become ultra complex haggling points in practice in negotiations. We cannot presume their outcome”.

At another point he says: “Maritime boundaries don’t appear by magic. They are enshrined in treaties, judgements or arbitrations and registered with the UN”.

And, he writes, “drawing a median line is as much an art as a science, especially in an area where the sands shift rather dramatically. Even if both sides to a negotiation agreed on a strict median line approach, I am pretty sure in these waters they would have plenty to argue about…There is nothing outlandish about a maritime boundary dispute. Even twelve years ago when we did UK/Ireland, we had to leave little stretches that could not be resolved. And we were using median lines – they are not nearly as simple as you seem to think. Look at US/Canada, or Norway/Greenland, or scores of others … It is beyond dispute that a primary purpose of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is to prevent unwarranted interference with merchant shipping. By insisting on our [U.K.’s]right to interfere with shipping right up to our obstinate view of what the boundary (to which we are not a party) should be, we are being very provocative. What we should be saying to Iran is ‘We did not intend to leave Iraqi territorial waters. We acknowledge that boundaries in this part of the Persian Gulf are yet to be finally settled and the area is subject to dispute. No offence or intrusion was intended. We would support any moves by Iraq and Iran to reach a definitive maritime boundary agreement”.

[Iran is apparently not a signatory to the Law of the Sea Convention, but as Craig Murray and posters on his blog seem to agree, the Law of the Sea has in some respects become customary international law and in any case Iran could choose a negotiating strategy based on the Law of the Sea without necessarily being a signatory or State Party to that treaty]On this blog, another commenter poses questions about the British Lynx helicopter that was overhead before and after the British service personnel were taken into custody: “The Lynx helicopter gave ‘top cover’ then for some reason whilst the boarders were still at work returned leaving their colleagues exposed. The MOD vrief is silent on this merely saying that after the incident the Lynx was sent over and checked the GSP reference of the anchored vessels and provided a handy snap[shot] to almost prove it. Why the Missing Lynx – these are seasoned boarding parties, this is a routine stop and search and the aircraft giving cover was withdrawn. The MOD brief is silent withdrawn but Mark Urban on Newsnight said it had a need to re-fuel”.

And a comment read elsewhere asked what the main British ship HMS Cornwall was doing when its boarding party was rounded up.

Then, into this mess, wades today none other than the extremely well-financed and well-connected press and propaganda arm of the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, who have been based in Iraq since sometime in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war.

They have apparently given a press conference in London today: “An Iranian opposition group claimed Saturday that Iran’s capture of 15 British sailors and marines was planned in advance and carried out in retaliation for the U.N. sanctions imposed against the country … The National Council of Resistance of Iran — the political wing of the Iranian MEK opposition group which is listed as a terrorist group by Britain, the U.S. and the European Union — said the British crew’s capture was planned in advance, but offered no evidence to support the claims…Hossein Abedini, a member of the opposition group’s foreign affairs committee, claimed the group had obtained information from sources within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard and had passed details to the British government. He did not provide any evidence or give further details.
Britain’s Foreign Office said it could not comment on Abedini’s allegation, or say if it had evidence the operation was pre-planned. A spokeswoman said the MEK was a banned organization under British anti-terrorism laws — meaning the government had no dealings with the group. Abedini told a London press conference that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval garrison had been on alert from the night before the kidnapping, to prepare for the operation. Mohammad Mohaddessin, who handles foreign affairs for the council, said in a statement that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had ordered the detention of the Britons in the hope of pressuring the British government over a threat to toughen U.N. sanctions…”

It should be noted that it is this same opposition group, the MEK, which leaked news about Iran’s nuclear porgram in 2002 that is the basis of UN Security Council sanctions imposed on Iran on 23 December, and tightened by a unanimous vote in the SC on 24 March.

The Associated Press’ well-informed George Jahn reported Friday from Vienna that: “Iran, in a confidential letter posted Friday on an internal Web site of the UN nuclear monitor, said its fear of attack from the U.S. and Israel prompted its decision to withhold information from the agency.
The IAEA, in response, urged Iran to reconsider, saying the decision would be in defiance of the monitor’s 35-nation board. Both the Iranian document and the confidential IAEA response were made available to The Associated Press…The IAEA also is waiting for Iran to respond to its requests to install remote cameras at key locations at Iran’s underground enrichment plant at Natanz. Negotiations over the IAEA request for additional cameras were scheduled for the weekend between senior Iranian and agency officials, a diplomat said Friday.
No enrichment is yet taking place at Natanz, but diplomats accredited to the IAEA said Friday it may start within days. If so, those cameras are crucial for IAEA experts in their efforts to monitor possible attempts to reconfigure machinery there into making weapons grade uranium — used in the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
Iran insists it wants to enrich only to low levels, suitable for generating nuclear power. But the international community increasingly fears that the country may want to develop enrichment for weapons uses.
Iran said Sunday it would no longer provide the IAEA with advance notice about any new nuclear facilities planned — a decision the government spokesman Gholan Hossein Elham said came in response to the “illegal and bullying resolution by (the) Security Council.”
Expanding on the decision, the confidential letter, dated March 29, declared that “the United States and the Israeli regime … are threatening the use of force and attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran and have repeatedly stressed that military action is an option on the table.
‘So long as such threats of military action persist, Iran has no option but (to) protect its security through all means possible, including protection of information which can facilitate openly stated and aggressive military objectives of the war mongers’, said the letter, signed by Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA. Blaming the IAEA for failing ‘systematically and repeatedly to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information’, Soltanieh wrote that ‘therefore such dangerous dissemination of sensitive information will have to be curtailed through steps which limit their scope and availability’. The agency, in response, noted in its Friday response that the move is ‘contrary to the board’s decision’ and suggested it may indirectly be in breach of agreements linked to the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Calling Iran’s decision ‘regrettable’, the agency, in a letter signed by a deputy of senior IAEA official Vilmos Cserveny, urged the Iranian authorities ‘to reconsider their decision’…”;

UN General Assembly calls for respect for Law of Sea Convention; a number of states denounce overfishing

The United Nations General Assembly called on States to take “‘immediate action” to sustainably manage fish stocks, and protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems from harmful fishing practices.

In debate last week, the UN General Assembly members expressed particular concern that “illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing constituted a serious threat to fish stocks and marine habitats and ecosystems, to the detriment of sustainable fisheries, as well as the food security and the economies of many States”. 

The Law of the Sea, adopted after years of intensive diplomatic negotiations, created three institutions: the International Seabed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

A UN press release on the GA discussions reports that “ongoing negotiations led the Assembly to postpone to a later date adoption of its traditional omnibus text on that Treaty.  The Assembly, therefore, urged States to exercise effective control over their nationals, including beneficial owners, and vessels flying their flag, in order to prevent and deter them from engaging in or supporting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, and to facilitate mutual assistance to ensure that such actions can be investigated and proper sanctions imposed.  It further urged States to take effective measures, at the national, regional and global levels, to deter the activities of any vessel which undermined conservation and management measures that had been adopted by regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements”.

Former U.S. Ambassador to UN Jeane Kirkpatrick dies at home, age 80

Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick — the first American woman Ambassador in the UN post, and the last to hold ministerial rank in the U.S. Presidential Cabinet — has died at home of congestive heart failure, The New York Times reported.

The paper reported that she said she “Hated U.N. Job:  She professed to detest the United Nations. She compared it to ‘death and taxes.’  But she endured it for four years. At the United Nations, she defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983…” 

The NY Times story made this fascinating revelation: “At the United Nations, Ms. Kirkpatrick was the target of barbs and backstabbing. Sometimes she was aware of the source, sometimes not.  She knew she was ‘a kind of special target for the Soviets — disinformation target,’ she said at a 2003 foreign policy roundtable convened by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  In 1982, the K.G.B. forged a letter to discredit her and fobbed it off on the Washington correspondent for The New Statesman, a leftist British weekly, which reprinted it. The phony letter was a note of ‘best regards and gratitude’ from the intelligence chief of the apartheid South African government.  ‘But I felt there was as much disinformation aimed at me from inside our own government, frankly, as from the Soviet Union,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “That’s a shocking thing to say, but it is no exaggeration.’

Here I can reveal that Mrs. Kirkpatrick confused me with the person who wrote the article that was published in the New Statesman.  I had nothing to do with it.  I had published another article at the same time, but in the Nation, which was kind of a review of everything that had been published about Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s role at the UN.  The worst thing I said about her in my article was that if she enjoyed the parliamentary process more, and were better at it, she would do a better job at the UN.  For this, I was made persona non grata, and Mrs. Kirkpatrick refused to speak to me at all, or even to take questions from me at UN press conferences.  She instructed her bodyguards to keep me at a distance, so that I could not even join a press scrum.

On the subject of her bodyguards, she was the first American Ambassador to the UN to have a paranoid security detail.  There was supposedly some Libyan plot to assassinate her, according to the U.S. press.  She would walk across the street from the U.S. Mission surrounded by bodyguards, and proceed to the Security Council chambers — with only a brief stop in the Ladies Room on the way, to primp before going before the cameras.  It was scary to be in that Ladies Room when suddenly the door would burst open and several security agents came in to clear the way.

Despite everything, I did think it was unfair when, during the Falklands/Malvinas War (Between Britain and Argentina — both U.S. allies, but Britain counted for slightly more), the then-Panamanian Ambassador (later Foreign Minister and even President) Jorge Illueca, worked himself up to a froth defending the Latin American position, and accused Margaret Thatcher (and, by implication, also Mrs. Kirkpatrick) of suffering from raging hormones.

I also do remember, however, Mrs. Kirkpatrick running in and out of the Security Council Chamber during negotiations after Israel bombed Saddam Hussein’s OSIRAK nuclear reactor in June 1981.  She wanted to abstain, but the final instruction she received from the U.S. State Department was to join in what became a unanimous vote condemning the Israeli attack.  Afterwards, she was heard to say, “I feel sick”.

The NY Times wrote that “in 1983, Ms. Kirkpatrick was a strong candidate to become President Reagan’s third national security adviser. She had support from the director of central intelligence, William J. Casey, and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. But her new boss, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, opposed her. ‘I respected her intelligence, but she was not well suited to the job,’ Mr. Shultz wrote. ‘Her strength was in her capacity for passionate advocacy,’ and the post, he added, demanded a ‘dispassionate broker.’… [So] Ms. Kirkpatrick spent the rest of her career commenting on policy instead of making it.”

The NY Times also wrote that “Power, Ms. Kirkpatrick said in a 1996 interview, is based not merely on guns or money but on the strength of personal conviction.” 

Professor As’ad Abu Khalil added this on his blogspot on Friday evening (California time): “When I was teaching at Georgetown in 1993, I had my office on the same row with her. She would come punctually at the same time around 5:00PM, pass by office, and pear [sic- it should read peer] in, and give me dirty looks before walking away. We also noticed that she would use The Arab Mind in her classes on national security. I was also amused once in the library to find a copy of Ghassan Tueni’s book, Une guerre pour les autres, with a heart-felt personal dedication by the pen of Tueni. She must have treasured the book before donating it to the campus library. It looked unopened before my inspection. 

The Washington Post writes that “An influential voice in the development of administration policies toward Central America, Kirkpatrick supported the military junta in El Salvador and was an ardent supporter of anti-Sandinista rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. She helped develop the covert plan to provide $19 million in aid to the contras. She also defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983.

“Kirkpatrick, the only woman in President Reagan’s National Security Council, told Time magazine in 1982 that her gender could have been the cause of her difficulties with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig and other administration officials. The author of Political Women (1974), a major study of the role of women in modern politics, she acknowledged that a woman in high office is ‘intrinsically controversial.’

‘Many people think a woman shouldn’t be in high office,’ she told Time. ‘Kissinger is described as “professorial.” I am described as “schoolmarmish.” Brzezinski is called “Doctor.”‘ I am called “Mrs.” I am depicted as a witch or a scold in editorial cartoons — and the speed with which these stereotypes have been used shows how close these feelings are to the surface. It is much worse than I ever dreamed it would be. My feelings are hurt.”  [In my experience, Mrs.Kirkpatrick was definitely a scold — but a witch?  Modern-day witches are generally gentle earth-mother types, but Mrs. Kirkpatrick was more in the mold of the old fashioned witches who stirred the boiling cauldron, and tried to poison Snow White]

The Washington Post goes on: “With her closely cropped gray hair, utilitarian clothes and blunt speaking style, the public Jeane Kirkpatrick seemed humorless and austere. ‘Raised eyebrows give her an expression of sustained skepticism, as if she lives on the verge of some crucial debate the rest of us do not hear,’ James Conaway observed in a 1981 Washington Post Magazine article.  Friends of Kirkpatrick’s told Conaway that she was much more charming in private…Her great passion, she once said, was listening to the pianist Glenn Gould play Bach…She remained active in public life after leaving the United Nations, although she was reportedly disappointed that Reagan did not offer her another Cabinet-level position in his second term…Survivors include two sons, Stuart Kirkpatrick, known as Traktung Rinpoche, a Buddhist minister in Ann Arbor, Mich., and John Kirkpatrick, a lawyer in Miami.”

The Washington Post also published excerpts from what amounts to a relatively fawning statement issued in the name of the UN SG: “Praising Kirkpatrick’s “commitment to an effective United Nations,” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said she was “always ardent and often provocative”.

This, coming from a man who clearly detests the present (but also outgong) U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, seems more than a little hypocritical and shows how sycophancy is simply second nature, in the SG’s inner circle of advisers…

Was Mrs. Kirkpatrick more committed to an effective UN than John Bolton? 

While surfing and reflecting on Mrs. Kirkpatrick, I came across her 2004 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, on the Military Implications of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It is posted on the site of the American Enterprise Institute.

Here are some interesting excepts — interesting both because they reveal a bit about the inside negotiations, and also because they are very telling about the politics of the woman:

“I had prolonged and serious dealings with the Law of the Sea Treaty during my years as Ronald Reagan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of his Cabinet and National Security Council. I might add that I was also a member of his Commission on Space…

Those of us concerned with foreign affairs in the Reagan Administration became deeply involved in the Law of the Sea Treaty, which had been under discussion since 1958 and had nearly been completed by the time Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981.

It is accurate to say that the Reagan Administration believed that the issues raised by the Treaty were basic and important and that both the political and economic stakes were high. I will share some of our experiences and perspectives because I believe they are also relevant today…

Negotiations continued for more than a decade–during which the Treaty came to be viewed as the cornerstone of the New International Economic Order (N.I.E.O.) and of the associated efforts to use U.N. regulatory power as an instrument for restructuring international economic relations and redistributing wealth and power. The General Assembly is the institution through which the N.I.E.O. operates. It operates on the principle of one country, one vote.

During the decade that the Law of the Sea Treaty took shape, the basic assumptions of the N.I.E.O. concerning the obligations of the “North” to the “South” gained wider acceptance and expanded their influence and scope. The regulatory functions of the U.N. grew and the resistance of the industrialized countries was eroded. Then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had laid out conditions for U.S. participation in the proposed technology transfer–guaranteeing U.S. representation on its governing body and limiting production controls–but these conditions were ignored and eventually dropped by the American government itself.

By the time Ronald Reagan took office, the Law of the Sea Treaty was very nearly completed and a final session was scheduled to begin on March 9, 1981, to be completed by the end of the summer. These plans were interrupted when the Reagan Administration announced before the session opened that it intended to conduct a full-fledged review of U.S. policy with regard to the LOS Treaty and would not be ready to reach its final conclusions by the scheduled time.

The announcement produced both relief and consternation. It should have come as no surprise. The Law of the Sea Treaty was, and I believe, is disadvantageous to American industry–especially in their participation in seabed mining–and to American interests generally.  It should have been no surprise that a pro-business government interested in restoring American power would oppose the Treaty.

Viewed from the perspective of U.S. interests and Reagan Administration principles, it was a bad bargain. However, the Law of the Sea Treaty promised some things that Americans wanted very much: a commitment to freedom of navigation, territorial limits set at 12 miles, establishment of economic zones of 200 miles, and protection of navigation rights of all through international straits. The U.S. also regarded as positive the certain international agreements protecting marine mammals and migratory species. These protections were especially welcome at a time when a good many countries were arbitrarily extending their territorial claims over straits and vital sea lanes.

But the Reagan Administration believed that the cost was too high, especially since most of these benefits had been or could be achieved through bilateral agreements or through existing organizations such as the Intergovernmental Marine Consultative Organization of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP)…

The LOS Treaty establishes a sweeping claim of jurisdiction over the seabed and all its mineral wealth. It creates an International Seabed Authority in which it vests control of two thirds of the Earth’s surface.

Under the LOS Treaty the power of the Seabed Authority would be vested in an Assembly made up of all participating states and an Executive Council of 36 members elected by the Assembly to represent investors, consumers, exporters of affected minerals, developing states, and all the geographical areas of the world.

The formula for representation guaranteed that the industrialized “producer” countries would be a permanent minority. And they would have a majority of obligations.

Most importantly, votes of the Assembly would be on the basis of one vote/one country, with a two-thirds majority binding on all parties.

A company desiring to get a contract for seabed exploration would be required to identify two promising sites, one of which would be claimed by the Authority to mine itself or to otherwise dispose of, the other of which may be given to the company.

The company would be required to provide its technology to the Authority, which would also be provided to members with the capital necessary for mining. Special taxes would be imposed and special care would be taken to protect existing producers of minerals against competition from minerals available in sea.

Worst of all, there was no guarantee that qualified applicants ready to meet these requirements would be granted permission for mining.

Certain consequences of the LOS Treaty seemed wholly predictable: • It vested control over seabed mining in countries that do not possess the necessary technology. • Its governing structure guaranteed a permanent majority to the less developed countries of the G-77. • It burdened companies who would be interested in mining with unusual costs and obligations and provided various permanent advantages to their competition.  Private companies would bear the expense of developing technology, of prospecting, of paying taxes. The Authority would bear none of these.  Moreover, the private company would be required to sell its technology to buyers and at prices determined by the Authority. The duration and extent of the mining rights would be determined by the Authority. • These regulatory powers would protect markets and prices from the competition of seabed mining.

From the Reagan Administration’s point of view, the most disturbing aspect of the LOS Treaty was the structure of decision making.

We felt the U.S. role in decisions should reflect our political and economic interests in the Treaty and our contributions to UN operations.

The G-77 was determined to treat all nations alike, and the U.S. as one nation among 180. We were not guaranteed a seat on the 36 member executive council. All questions could be decided by a two-thirds majority vote in the Assembly. Any aspect of the Treaty adopted by consensus could be amended by a simple two-thirds vote.

Thus, the G-77, which constitutes two-thirds of the members, could change any aspect of a meticulously negotiated convention.

President Reagan outlined six concerns which needed to be addressed to make the Treaty acceptable to the U.S.: the most important of these were that the Treaty should not deter development of seabed mining; that its decision making structure should reflect and protect economic interests and contributions of participating states; and that it should be susceptible to ratification by the U.S. Senate.

OPEC had stimulated a broad desire for cartelizing other needed mineral products. [What does OPEC have to do with the Law of the Sea?  This is just an occasion to fire a shot]] The LOS Treaty would become an instrument for assisting in the development of such cartels to insure high prices by controlling supplies….

The G-77 was unwilling to accommodate basic American concerns. Bangladesh’s representative Imam UL-Hak spoke for the Group of 77 of which he was chairman. He reproached the Reagan Administration for delaying proceedings asserting that “the U.S. is overly preoccupied with the extension of the Assembly’s power.” The G-77, he underscored, “has consistently rejected the concept of veto, weighted voting, or voting by chambers.”  He chided the U.S. for seeking unequal power. He utterly ignored the unequal contribution the U.S. would make because of its advanced technology. In short, Ul-Hak explicitly rejected each of the Reagan Administration’s concerns. No concessions would be made.

Basically, the G-77’s position was that the U.S. could take it or leave it.

There were a good many influential Americans who thought we should take it.

But not at top levels of the Reagan Administration. An Interagency Senior Advisory Group on the Law of the Sea was convened in which most departments were represented, including State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, CIA, NSC, Treasury, Energy, OMB, Interior, and White House staff.  Their conclusions were reported in a memorandum of March 4, 1981: 1. The LOS was unacceptable; 2. Both the Treaty and the U.S. delegation must be closely examined; 3. An immediate review must be undertaken; 4. The existing delegation must not preempt the Administration’s options. To this end the decision was made to issue written instructions to the delegation, other nations were to be informed of the review, a new Ambassador to LOS should be appointed, and to insure fidelity to the Administration’s orientations, it was recommended that consideration be given to replacing several high ranking members of the U.S. delegation.

The Administration did not really want to “dash the hopes of mankind,” which they were often accused of. But on the other hand, it did not want to make it impossible for humans to utilize the minerals of the ocean floor. It didn’t want to discourage the development of technology for seabed mining. It didn’t want to encourage the development of new cartels. And it didn’t want to agree to revolutionary doctrines of property.

The notion that the oceans or space are the “common heritage of mankind” was–and is–a dramatic departure from traditional Western conceptions of private property.

Most members at upper levels of the Reagan Administration were reluctant to put our foot on that slippery slope. But there were a good many Republicans as well as Democrats who thought it important for the U.S. to continue to participate in negotiations.

An influential bipartisan group urged full support and constructive participation in the Law of the Sea Conference. They argued that the Treaty would serve U.S. foreign policy interests, promote the rule of law, friendly relations among states, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Today, their heirs still believe the treaty will guarantee these benefits.

No American commentator denied that the provisions concerning seabed mining were prejudicial to industrial nations, but they believed we should go along anyway.

Many of the strongest proponents of the LOS believed that new global institutions were needed to deal with the global interdependence, which they thought characterized the contemporary world. They would have preferred guaranteed U.S. representation on LOS governing bodies and some sort of veto, such as that possessed by the five permanent members of the Security Council or a rule of consensus which gave all an effective veto power. But they thought we should settle for the treaty as it was.

The Reagan Administration also saw serious constitutional questions. How could the constitutional requirement that treaties be ratified by the Senate be met if the contents of the agreement could be altered by a two-thirds vote of the members? This provision for easy amendment by an Assembly majority made the Treaty an open ended commitment.

Henceforth, the United States would be [would have been, if the US had ratified it, but it did not] bound by what two-thirds of the Assembly said we should be bound by. That is, we would be bound by decisions of the G-77, a prospect that could not but appall anyone who had taken a good look at decisions and policies endorsed by the G-77 in those years.   

Decisions were made by consensus inside the G-77, but the G-77 rejected application of the same principle for decision making in the LOS Assembly. The operation of the rule of consensus inside the G-77 guaranteed that the interests and needs of individual G-77 members would be taken into account, but there would be no parallel institutional arrangement to take account of the interests of developed nations.

In the view of the Reagan Administration, U.S. concerns rested on experience and taxable interests. The Treaty proponents’ case rested on hopes–that the Law of the Sea Treaty would enhance international peace by advancing international cooperation and a sense of obligation that we should do what a majority of nations asked of us.

Among Democrats, liberal Republicans, and within the Department of State, these feelings were strong enough to delay a U.S. decision on the Law of the Sea Treaty for nearly two years.

Then the U.S. decided not to participate in the Prep Com conference. That decision not to participate in the Prep Com conference confronted us with another decision of importance for U.S. policy vis-à-vis the U.N. system.

The General Assembly voted 132 to 4 on a resolution that judged the costs of the LOS Prep Com as falling under the general U.N. budget.

This confronted the U.S. with another, immediate decision. To pay or not to pay the assessed share of the expenses of the Prep Com conference in which the U.S. would not be participating?

As usual, the issue was more complex than it seemed. At the heart was the question of U.S. financial obligations under the U.N. Charter and international law. Is the U.S. required to pay all charges assessed by the U.N.? Is failure to do so a violation of international law?

Some opinions outside and inside the State Department held that failure to pay the assessed portion of the budget constituted a violation of our obligations under the U.N. charter and therefore would be illegal. A bipartisan majority of Congress, however, had passed a law which the President had signed on authorizing withholding a U.S. contribution to any expenditure whose principle purpose was to aid and abet the PLO and SWAPO, which regularly claimed the right to pursue their political goals by force. Some believed we were legally bound to do whatever a U.N. body decided. However that interpretation was not the only one.

The International Court of Justice in the Certain Expenses Case, however, had held that an assessed expense was not automatically valid. To create collective obligation to pay, the expense must be legitimate. Legitimate expenses were those necessary to the implementation of the fundamental principles of the U.N. Charter. Only essential activities tied to the U.N. Charter’s fundamental purposes created an obligation.

The grounds cited by the State Department’s legal advisor in 1982 for withholding U.S. contributions to the Prep Com was the relation of the LOS Prep Com to the U.N. Charter.  The Prep Com was not created by the General Assembly or the Security Council and was not answerable to the U.N. It was “established by a treaty regime separate from the U.N. Charter.” Therefore, he concluded, “a good case can be made that the LOS Prep Com expenses are expenses of a different entity, not lawful expenses of the U.N. within the meaning of the Charter and thus not properly assessable against non-consenting members. That was a relief.

The fact that the expenses of the LOS Prep Com were so readily increased under the U.N. program budget–and by that vote of 132 to 4–illustrated the realism of the U.S. concern about our relative isolation in the U.N., and also about a new trend in the U.N. policy toward defining extraordinary expenses into the U.N.’s core budget. This redefinition is an easy solution to the problem of financing activities for which it is difficult to secure voluntary contributions, and as usually, entails little or no cost to the majority voting to add on expenses.

The decision of the U.S. not to participate in the LOS Treaty seems to me even better today than when it was made. There has been time to observe the decline of OPEC and the benefits of that decline, time to experience the cavalier fashion in which the G-77 is ready to impose obligatory burdens on developed countries, and there has been an opportunity to see that when the U.S. declines to go along with a scheme that is incompatible with American interests but beloved by the global establishment, the sky does not fall.

The Law of the Sea Treaty was the first of a number of issues in which the Reagan Administration’s convictions and electoral commitments contradicted the orientations of the liberal establishment that is dominant in much of our society. It has proved more difficult to affect the objectives of American policy than reported in standard descriptions of policy making in a democracy. Of course, important events affecting the Treaty have occurred in the years following the Reagan Administration and modifications of the Treaty have taken place. But the modifications have not been major. The Treaty is fundamentally the same…

The most important modifications of the Treaty dealt with seabed mining. They specifically assert that the provisions dealing with mandatory technology transfer “shall not apply.” These mandatory provisions are replaced by a set of general principles on technology transfer. Modifications also eliminate some of the competitive advantages of the Enterprise, and the terms on which it becomes operative. These amendments are obviously desirable, but they do not address the basic structure or consequences of the Treaty.

I have read much of the discussion of the Treaty and I regret to say that I remain concerned that its ratification will diminish our capacity for self government, including, ultimately, our capacity for self defense…

The United Nations is a political body whose many members have strongly held views that are often different than those of the United States. The United States often finds it difficult to persuade other nations to see the world as we do. Simply making the case does not necessarily solve the problem.  

A distinguished Senator suggested today that we should join the Treaty so that we  can be inside it and “lead.”

I suggest that Senators who vote on these issues should spend at least a year in a U.N. body, with the responsibility for passing or preventing the passage of a resolution. It’s enlightening.“,pubID.20262/pub_detail.asp

The last thing I hope to have to say about Mrs. Kirkpatrick concerns her jewelry.  Despite what the Washington Post calls her “utiliarian clothes”, she did have somewhere deep inside a need to look good (her stops in the UN Ladies’ Room on her way to the UN Security Council meetings was strong proof).  The one way she did break out was to start wearing a very nice piece of jewelry (a gold and pearl brooch, as I recall, an anniversary gift from her husband, and it came from Tiffany’s.  Conservative, but not too small — largish, in fact.)  Pinned just beside her lapel, it showed up in photo “head shots”, and added a significant touch of glamour.  She then acquired one or two other pieces, gifts from supporters and admirers, I think.

The next woman Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, was much more exuberant.  Not only did she go for an Estee Lauder makeup lesson, but her jewelry was more plentiful (matching earrings and brooches, that she changed regularly — and selected not only for beauty and quality, but also to make political points at specific events).

The present U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has a few good pieces (she went from Brooks Brothers to designer suits, though always discreet, and from conventional gold to some very good pearl necklaces and ear studs), but generally avoids brooches, probably as a bit too decorative.

Just on jewelry, Mrs. Bush’s madeira citrine necklace worn with a rust colored silk taffeta long-sleeved gown at a state dinner last fall, and Hillary Clinton’s green necklace and earrings (including peridots?), worn with a green suit, were  stunning…a real evolution of the public presence of American women.