Israel is no stranger to criticism from the United Nations. This week, a UN report leaked by the non-governmental organization UN Watch, is stirring up even more controversy against Israel. Richard Falk, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories who is retiring in March, authored a final report to the UN that erroneously blasted Israel.
In his 22 page report, Falk concluded that Israel has continued to impose apartheid conditions on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Falk even went so far as to redefine the Hebrew word “hafrada” – separation – to be used interchangeably with the Afrikaans word “apartheid.,” which means a state of separation. He enthusiastically endorsed the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, and offered inflammatory statements against the Israeli government.
Falk, who offered several recommendations, urged the UN to increase their support of a “legitimacy war” against Israel.
Falk wrote that his role as rapporteur was to “bear witness” to “provide a record of violations by Israel and its defiant attitude, and challenges the United Nations to take steps to ensure compliance.” He accused Israel of undermining his work, complaining that Israel “refused even minimal cooperation.” Having been expelled from Israel in December 2008, Falk warned his successor to receive backing from the UN to force Israel to comply.
The main focus of the report was Israel’s supposed war crimes against Palestinians. Falk accused Israel of failing to “comply with clear legal standards embodied in the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” Mysteriously enough is Falk’s failure to mention any Palestinian violence directed against Israelis, such as rocket and stone attacks which have caused multiple injuries and fatalities to innocent Israeli civilians.
One of the final recommendations issued by Falk extended to the Human Rights Council. Falk hoped that “the Human Rights Council pay increased attention to the failure by Israel to cooperate with the normal functioning of the United Nations by way of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and to the protection of Special Rapporteurs from defamatory attacks diverting attention from substantive issues integral to the mandate.”
Falk went so far as to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, calling Israel’s actions as “slouching toward genocide.” He deemed Israel an “oppressive occupation…[which] seems designed to encourage residents to leave Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent annexationist, colonialist and ethnic-cleansing goals of Israel.”
These sentiments, which have been previously repeated by Falk, led Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to call for Falk’s immediate dismissal.
Urging the UN and International Court of Justice to harshly punish Israel, Falk argued for legal opinions to be issued on “the prolonged occupation of Palestine, as aggravated by prohibited transfers of large numbers of persons from the occupying Power and the imposition of a dual and discriminatory administrative and legal system in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.”
Jewish by birth, Falk has been accused several times over of anti-Semitism. Many U.S. officials, such as State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, have condemned Falk for his egregious claims against Israel. Psaki has called out Falk for “his despicable and deeply offensive comments, particularly his anti-Semitic blog posting, his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and…his deplorable statements with regard to the terrorist attacks in Boston.”
The United States, Canada, Israel, and numerous human rights groups around the world have been closely monitoring Falk for several years for his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments.
Falk is due to submit his final report on March 24th to the United Nations Human Rights Council. His report, along with around four others, will be presented to the UNHRC and lead to condemnatory resolutions against Israel.
Three candidates are currently being considered to replace Falk. One candidate, law professor Christine Chinkin, is a co-author of the notorious Goldstone Report.