The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has set up a fact-finding mission to investigate how Israel’s Jewish settlements affect Palestinians.
UNHRC president, Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, on Friday named three women to the panel: Christine Chanet of France, Unity Dow of Botswana and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan. “Each has a long track record of impartial, independent, and objective human rights work of the highest caliber,” she said.
Christine Chanet recently accused Israel of “total discrimination” and complained that “it is very difficult to have a real dialogue” with Israel.
Asma Jahangir’s sister Hina Jilani served on the UN’s controversial Goldstone commission in 2009.
“Allow me to reiterate the council’s request to Israel … not to obstruct the process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission,” Lasserre stated.
The human rights group UN Watch expressed concerns over the probe’s lack of balance, noting the mandate’s failure to examine violations by the Palestinian side.
The terms of the inquiry are solely to examine how Israeli residents of settlements and east Jerusalem violate the human rights of Palestinians.
“While there are genuine human rights victims on all sides, this inquiry’s mandate is imbalanced and lacks credibility,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“Its terms were framed in a 4-page resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab and Islamic groups, that omits any reference to Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians, including the hundreds of rockets fired recently from Gaza and Sinai into Israeli towns and villages.
“The only victims it contemplates are Palestinians, the only perpetrator, Israel. In the guise of human rights, Syria and other oppressive regimes sponsored this UN inquiry to deflect attention from their own crimes, to scapegoat Israel and erode its international standing,” Neuer said.
Israel severed contacts with the UN Human Rights Council in March after it announced it would investigate the settlements, saying the UNHRC was “singling out” Israel.
The all-female panel is tasked with carrying out a fact-finding mission “to investigate the implications of the settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Lassere said.
Israel’s foreign ministry reacted with anger to the mission, calling it “another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC and of the uncandid approach that characterizes the Council’s dealing with Israel.”
The ministry said on Friday that the “disproportionate focus” the UNHRC puts on Israel, while ignoring human rights violations elsewhere, “leads to the contempt and degradation of the important cause of universal human rights.”
“In times when President Assad’s regime massacres thousands of its own people, the UNHRC only dedicates it symbolic time … while turning its resources to obsessively focus on Israel,” the foreign ministry said.
The statement pledged that the mission “will find no cooperation in Israel, and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the [disputed] territories.”