Israel-Palestine Conflict Consumes U.N. Assembly

On stage at the U.N. General Assembly with six of the world’s most powerful political women, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the success of democratic uprisings in Arab nations before turning her attention to Tunisia’s minister of women’s affairs, Lilia Labidi. “Minister! Thank you, Minister,” Clinton said, motioning toward Labidi. “I think we should give Tunisia a round of applause.” But the applause was brief, and new tensions in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute have taken priority over discussions of the Arab Spring. During a meeting on empowering women, Labidi appealed for help in consolidating gains for Tunisian women, but the appeal did not spark much discussion. Clinton, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, and other female heads of state left the meeting promptly after it ended. Though she’s a guest of the U.N., Labidi has decided to go home. “I cannot live here in such luxury,” she told The New York Times, saying that the $700-a-day it was costing for her to stay in New York would be better spent on a project for rural women. “To the degree that the Arab Spring is important, one would have wanted more than a warm welcome and a group photograph,” she said, adding, “What am I bringing back to the Tunisian women?”