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Midnight Money for Durban III

At the United Nations, plans for Durban III roll on. In a vote just after midnight, the United Nations General Assembly said A-OK to spending money on this conference --  yet another staging of the anti-American, anti-Semitic UN roadshow that opened in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, and was revived in Geneva, in April, 2009, as Durban II, or the Durban Review Conference (starring Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- here's Roger Simon's post from Geneva at the time). The UN has scheduled round three, Durban III, to be held in New York, dovetailing with next year's opening of the UN General Assembly. The UN's chosen date is Sept. 21 -- just 10 days after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 jihadi attacks that brought down the Twin Towers, killed almost 3,000 people, and turned a once thriving part of lower Manhattan into a war zone of ash and rubble.

Not only will Americans have Durban III foisted upon them next September, in the heart of New York. As chief funders of the UN, they are now officially expected to foot the biggest share of the bill. How did that happen? Following a byzantine process in which one of the UN committees involved brazenly broke the UN's own rules and neglected to include an estimate of costs while approving plans for this Durban III conference, the General Assembly's budget committee then came up with estimated costs. As this headed for the General Assembly plenary, Anne Bayefsky, in an article last week, provided a deft outline of the UN intricacies involved, and accurately predicted how this would play out.

That brings us to this Thursday evening, with the clock ticking past midnight as the UN General Assembly raced to wrap up business before the Christmas holiday and end of the year. Having adjourned for most of the afternoon and evening (apparently to allow for the production of some enormous mass of documentation related to the proceedings), the General Assembly convened for one final run at a heap of business -- with the final round of deliberations opening just before midnight. After a series of no-vote consensus approvals, gaveled through at speed, the delegates got to the question of funding for Durban III. More important than the amount (an estimated $322,500, of which $206,400 would effectively represent new money dolloped out from a UN "contingency fund") was the chance to block this project by simply refusing the money.

Not a prayer. Nor did the Obama administration go down fighting. America didn't even call for a vote. Israel was left to make that request. The delegate of Yemen, speaking for the Group of 77 plus China, urged everyone to vote for this fine opportunity to mark, in Manhattan, the 10th anniversary of the 2001 Durban conference (an event at which the anti-semitic and anti-American hate speech became so vitriolic that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered the U.S. delegation to walk out). Before the vote, the U.S. said nothing.

The votes were cast: 102 in favor of money for Durban III.

17 against (including the U.S.).

33 abstentions.

After the vote, the U.S. delegate (not Ambassador Susan Rice -- there was no sign of her at this post-midnight Durban approval session) offered a desultory "Explanation of Vote," saying the U.S. continues to have "serious concerns" about this conference. But having articulated those concerns last month in the General Assembly's Third Committee (not a gang that attracts a lot of  press), he would not "re-articulate them." The Belgian delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, also expressed "deep concern," but said the EU will "remain engaged." And so -- uour UN at work -- on to Durban III.