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Solomon Islands voted in favor of Goldstone Report in UN
Photo: Shahar Azran
Photo: Haim Ziv
Ronen: Israel doesn't buy support
Photo: Haim Ziv
Report: Iran 'bought' Solomon Island vote against Israel
Iranian foreign minister offered Oceania nation $200,000, technological aid, in exchange for end to support of Israel in UN, report obtained by Foreign Ministry says. Following offer, Solomon Islands changed attitude towards Israel, even voted in favor of adopting Goldstone Report

Iran is bribing friendly countries to Israel to abandon it and vote against the Jewish state in the UN, a report obtained by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem reported.

 

According to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the report said the Iranian foreign minister met with the foreign minister of the Oceania nation Solomon Islands last year and promised him a check in the amount of $200,000, along with technological aid.

 

These incentives were meant to come in exchange for an end to the nation's support of Israel.

 

Shortly after the offer was made the Solomon Islands' foreign minister visited Tehran.

 

Michael Ronen, Israel's ambassador to the Solomon Islands, said in response to the Yedioth report that "Israelis very active in nurturing its relations with countries in the region".

 

"We don't believe in conditions and we don't offer money in exchange for support" Ronen added. "We offer mainly humanitarian support, in order to stress that we are a positive power in the region."

 

He added that small states will always be tempted by cash donations. "Iran won the support of the Solomon Islands for $200,000. I won't offer $250,000 to overturn the decision. Israel does not buy support for money," Ronen said.

 

"The Solomon Islands have never been supportive of Israel. It has never been against us but has always refrained or been absent from votes. Israel also has a lot of friends here in the press and the social sector, but we won't threaten them to remove our support," he added.

 

The public in the Solomon Islands and the media, which reject ties with Iran, will do this and the local government will pay with public opinion."

 

Now in favor of Goldstone report

The Solomon Islands is a very poor nation made up of 990 islands inhabited by 600,000 residents.

 

The Iranian payment seemed to do the trick, since a change in the nation's attitude towards Israel became clear several months ago, when it started to vote against Israel in the United Nations.

 

The Solomon Islands even voted in favor of adopting the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which accuses Israel of war crimes.

 

Yedioth Ahronoth reported that following the vote, Foreign Ministry representative Gili Sharir travelled to the Solomon Islands and expressed to the local government Israel's protest of its ties with Iran.

 

The Solomon Islands' leadership objected to Israel's protest and claimed it was employing a friendly policy to all.

 

"We have no enemies, and therefore, we will be friends to all the nations, including both Israel and Iran," a Solomon Islands government official told Israeli diplomats.

 

Israel still sending aid

Despite its boosting ties with Iran, Israel continues to send humanitarian aid to the Solomon Islands, and is currently sending them equipment to help treat diabetics.

 

Foreign Ministry sources said, "We still have many friends in the Solomon Islands, and we have no intention of competing with the Iranians over who will pay more. We will continue to transfer humanitarian and medical aid."

 

According to reports from the Foreign Ministry, Iran is trying to "buy" other countries in the region as well, including the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, which are considered sworn friends of Israel and do not miss a chance to vote in its favor in the UN.

 

These countries continue to maintain their friendships with Israel in the meantime, but the Foreign Ministry is aware that it will need to stay on its toes so as not to lose their support, and is making efforts to influence public opinion in these countries.

 

In the past, Arab ambassadors in the UN have tried to persuade Oceania ambassadors to put an end to their automatic support of Israel.

 

The Palestinian ambassador to Australia also visited the Solomon Islands and requested the country stop supporting Israel.

 


First published: 22.11.09, 10:30
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