Israel’s expulsion of human rights envoy is dangerous: UN

December 16th, 2008 - 4:22 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Dec 16 (DPA) Israel’s decision to expel a US expert on human rights was a “dangerous” move that contravened mandates given to rights advocates working for the UN, president of the UN General Assembly said Monday.Richard Falk was detained at Jerusalem’s airport Sunday and then deported back to the US. Falk’s mandate given by the 192-nation UN assembly is to assess the situation in Palestinian-occupied territories.

The Israeli foreign ministry Monday said Falk was “unwelcome in Israel”.

A ministry statement said Falk’s visit was uncoordinated and without the state’s consent and he was therefore turned around.

Israel has long complained about the mandate Falk took over earlier this year, saying it is biased in favour of the Palestinians and prevents the expert from making any comments about human rights abuses committed against Israelis.

He had also personally infuriated the Jewish State when he compared Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories with those of the Nazis during World War II.

UN General Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, who has criticised Israel in the past, said the Israeli government took a “dangerous decision … to rebuff UN mandates and UN-appointed mandate holders”.

“This again is not conducive to the good climate that the president of the General Assembly is trying to promote,” he said in a statement.

Falk, a law professor at New York University, is the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. He has criticised Israel’s policy against the Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Miguel d’Escoto said Falk was investigating “human rights violations that affected the protected civilian population of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most urgently he intended to investigate the rising humanitarian crisis in Gaza Strip resulting from siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million population imposed by the occupying power”.

Israel earlier this month had lodged a rare protest against Miguel d’Escoto, who criticised the international community for failing to help Palestinians establish an independent state after 60 years on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He denied Monday stories that accused him of preventing the Israeli ambassador to the UN to address the assembly on the 60th anniversary last week, calling those stories “slander” and a “malicious lie”.

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