Geneva / AFP
The UN expert on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories voiced scathing criticism of Israel on Monday, as he stepped down over what he said was a lack of access to areas he was meant to monitor.
Makarim Wibisono, who took on the role of Special Rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories in June 2014, presented his final report to the UN Human Rights Council, criticising Israel’s refusal to cooperate with his mandate.
“It was with deep regret that I accepted that the premise upon which I took up the mandate… was not fulfilled,” he told the council.
The Indonesian diplomat said he had been assured before taking up the position that he would have access to the occupied Palestinian territories.But he said repeated requests for access were unsuccessful.
“This lack of cooperation regrettably seems to signal the continuation of a situation under which Palestinians suffer daily human rights violations under the Israeli occupation,” he said, and slammed “a general lack of accountability” for such abuses.
Israel, which has long accused the Human Rights Council of having a built-in bias against the Jewish state, was not present for Wibisono’s presentation on Monday. But the Israeli foreign ministry has previously accused the expert of bias.
The EU representative, Peter Soerensen of Denmark, said he regretted that Israel had not allowed Wibisono to access the Palestinian territories. But he also noted that his mandate was “limited to investigate Israel’s violations”, and insisted that all rights abuses, regardless of who committed them, “should be subject to scrutiny.”
Palestinian representative Ibrahim Khraishi meanwhile charged that the appointment of Wibisono’s successor had been postponed after an Israel-linked rights group had sent out a letter accusing both nominees, British law professor Penny Green and Canadian law professor Michale Lynk, of being anti-Israeli activists.
Khraishi called the delay a “flagrant violation” of the rules of the Human Rights Council.
In his presentation, Wibisono stressed the need for a successor to continue his work, voicing alarm at the recent escalation of violence committed by both Palestinians and Israelis. According to an AFP count, nearly 200 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese have been killed in a wave of violence since October. While stressing that “any wanton act of individual violence, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis, is unacceptable and must be investigated and prosecuted,” he stressed the violence was happening “in a pre-existing context… against a backdrop of illegal settlements in the West Bank… (and) the blockade of Gaza.”