PLO: Israel Sabotages Missions of UN Human Rights Council

RAMALLAH, January 5, 2016 (WAFA) – An official from the Palestine Liberation Organization said Israel is exerting efforts sabotage the missions of UN human rights organizations, especially the UN Human Rights Council in the occupied Palestinian Territories, said a PLO official.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the resignation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPT due to Israel’s failure to grant him access to the areas he is tasked with exhibits Israel’s arrogance as an occupying power, rejection and defiance of international law institutions and mechanisms.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories Makarim Wibisono Monday submitted his resignation to the President of the Human Rights Council, effective as of 31 March 2016 after Israel denied him access to the oPT.

Speaking about his resignation, Wibisono stated, “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way.”

“I took up this mandate with the understanding that Israel would grant me access, as an impartial and objective observer,” he added, stressing that upon assuming his post in June 2014, he was assured that he would have access to the oPT.

Repeated requests for access, both written and oral, have been unsuccessful. “With no reply from Israel to my latest request, in October 2015, to have access by the end of 2015, it is with deep regret that I accept the premise upon which I took up the mandate, which is to have direct access to the victims in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, will not be fulfilled,” he said.

He will present his last report to the Human Rights Council in March 2016.

“Israel is doing its utmost to sabotage the missions of UN human rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council,” stated Ashrawi.

“Seeking to cover up its human rights violations and proceed with its crimes, Israel has been refusing to cooperate with and impeding the overall human rights work conducted by these organizations,” added Ashrawi.

“What is going on is that a single state [Israel] is defying and attempting to impose its will on the international community and seeking to evade any accountability and punishment,” added Ashrawi.

She called on the world (international community) to “stop this farce and exercise political and humanitarian will required to hold Israel accountable to rule of international law” and put an end to its impunity.

Wibisono, an Indonesian diplomat, said throughout his tenure, the Palestinian government cooperated fully with his mandate, and he voiced deep concern at the lack of effective protection of Palestinian victims of continuing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law.

“I reluctantly wish to pass the baton to a successor, selected by the Human Rights Council,” he added. “It is my sincere hope that whoever succeeds me will manage to resolve the current impasse, and so reassure the Palestinian people that after nearly half a century of occupation the world has not forgotten their plight and that universal human rights are indeed universal.”

He affirmed it was important for Israel’s own human rights credibility to cooperate fully with the mandate, including by allowing unfettered access to the occupied Palestinian Territories.

In his most recent report, Wibisono voiced concern at Israeli raids against the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements in the occupied West Bank, at the high level of clashes in the city, where Palestinians live in close proximity to a large settler population, and at the blockade around the Gaza strip, which imposes severe restrictions on Palestinian movement, imports and exports.

“The bottom line remains that, if Gaza is to recover from the damage wrought by multiple rounds of hostility and a shattered economy, the blockade must be lifted. The people deserve help and realization of their human rights, not collective punishment,” he said in June.

Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by and reporting back to the Council. Wibisono served as Indonesia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva (2004-2007) and in New York (1997-2000), as well as on a number of UN bodies, including as Chairperson of the 61st United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2005 and President of the UN Economic and Social Council in 2000.