(April 4, 2022 / JNS) The U.N. Human Rights Council announced the appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on Israel on April 1, a position that is a “mandate to discriminate,” according to the UN Watch NGO. Israel is the only country to which a permanent investigator has been assigned.
“Our position is that everything under the mechanism of Item 7, the special rapporteur, anything that unfairly singles out Israel, there is no point in engaging on those matters,” a spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the United Nations in Geneva told JNS.
When asked if the mission has any dialogue or other contact with the special rapporteur, the answer from the spokesperson was a simple: “No.”
Canadian Michael Lynk finished his six-year term last week by submitting a report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians, as the conclusion of a relentless effort by Lynk to delegitimize Israel.
Now, Francesca Albanese of Italy will step into the post of Special Rapporteur, confirmed for the seat on Friday. Albanese, who has a lengthy, documented history of anti-Israel bias, holds a U.N. position that is supposed to be neutral and non-biased. Yet she has compared the Palestinian experience during and immediately after the Arab-initiated war against Israel of 1948 to the Holocaust.
“Just as tragic, terrible, unspeakable is the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in the [Holocaust], so for the Palestinians, the nakba [“catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment] represents the crumbling of the connective tissue of a people,” Albanese said in a speech captured on video, in which she questioned her own objectivity on the matter.
On her application for the special rapporteur position, however, she answered “no” when asked whether she holds “any views or opinions that could prejudice the manner in which the candidate discharges the mandate.”
She added that Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinian people was not a war between states, but a “colonial project that has turned into apartheid.” She has also accused Israel of committing “crimes against humanity.”
Albanese has worked on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for much of her career. She previously worked at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a body ostensibly focused on Palestinian refugees, but one that has been cited by multiple countries for incitement toward Israel and its perpetuation of the conflict.
She co-authored a book, Palestinian Refugees in International Law, and has also spoken of her support of the Palestinian “Right of Return” to Israel, which would be a de facto destruction of the country as a Jewish state or safe haven for Jews.
‘A relic from the old Middle East’
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said he expected that Albanese would pursue a path similar to Lynk, who entrenched “the discrimination inherent in the mandate through his one-sided U.N. reports and statements that gave a free pass to systematic violations by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Meirav Eilon Shahar said on Friday that “Israel does not expect any fair, objective or professional treatment from an activist who promotes outrageous libels.”
A statement from the Israeli mission added that “the Special Rapporteur’s mandate was established with the sole purpose of discriminating against Israel and Israelis. It is just a continuation of the pattern of the HRC’s institutional discrimination. No situation has an ongoing Special Rapporteur accountable to no one, Israel does. No other Item targets one country, Item 7 does. No country has at least four resolutions against it every year, Israel does. While Israel will continue to promote Human Rights and uphold its obligations, both at national and international level, we have long understood the HRC plays a detrimental role when it comes to Israel.”
Dealing with the larger Item 7, Eilon Shahar said that it is “a relic from the old Middle East. It represents what our region used to be, it represents years of Israel standing alone. Well, the Middle East is coming together. Israel is fostering ties based on coexistence with new friends and old foes. Israel stands alone no longer. … Some members of this council will continue to vote for Item 7 resolutions blindly, they will continue to ignore the reality of the outside world. They will continue to ignore statements by their own governments; they will continue to ignore the strong bilateral ties that exist between our countries. They themselves will show the absurdity of Item 7; they themselves will show how detached it is from reality.”
Still, Israel’s Abraham Accords partner, the United Arab Emirates, voted in favor of each anti-Israel resolution at the latest HRC session. The Israeli mission spokesperson told JNS that the Emiratis are “supporting and following the broader Arab position. We expressed our disappointment. At the U.N., it takes a long time to transcribe what happens on bilateral level into actual votes.”
Only the United States, the United Kingdom and the Marshall Islands voted against all four HRC anti-Israel resolutions, including “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; Human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the obligation to ensure accountability and justice; Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
These marked the first votes on Israel since the United States rejoined the HCR earlier this year, arguing that it needed a seat at the table to influence the body on human-rights issues.
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