Photo Credit: screen capture, UNTV
UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Makarim Wibisono, resigned.

The Arab League rejected Cerna allegedly because she had never publicly commented on the plight of the Palestinian Arabs.

Wibisono, by contrast, had a long history of accusing Israel, which he called a “brutal occupying power,” of various “unconscionable” acts and of ignoring any wrongdoing by the Palestinian Arabs.


Indonesia, by the way, from which Wibisono hails, is ranked as only “partly free” by Freedom House. Israel is ranked “free,” and is the only nation in the Middle East with that  – the highest – designation. Freedom House also includes the “West Bank” and “Gaza” as separate listings in its world freedom listings; both are in the “not free” category.


Is there a silver lining?

Yes. At least in this one small patch of the overwhelmingly harsh treatment of Israel by the global powers, the United States has remained in Israel’s corner. The U.S. has consistently criticized the existence of the one permanent UN position the sole job of which is to attack Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian Arabs.

American Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power chastised Falk for his “bizarre and insulting” treatment of Israel which she said “tarnished” the reputation of the UNHRC and expressed pleasure when Falk stepped down from his position. Falk’s departure was a move Power described as “long overdue.”

What was the U.S. response to Wibisono’s outrage that Israel would not allow it to “impartially” attack Israel from within borders Israel controls?

We learned the answer to that question in Monday’s State Department Press Briefing.

The Associated Press’s Matt Lee asked State’s Spokesperson John Kirby to comment on Wibisono’s resignation. Kirby, reading from a prepared statement, said that the U.S. is aware of the resignation and hopes the UNHRC will appoint someone “who can take a fair and balanced approach to this issue to fill out the remainder of Wibisono’s term.”

Matt Lee of the Associated Press. Jan. 5, 2016

Lee pressed Kirby to take a position, either siding with the U.N. and Wibisono, that Israel made his job impossible by refusing to grant him access to do what he needed, or with Israel, which believes the position itself is an expression of predetermined bias against the Jewish State.

Kirby essentially agreed with the Israelis. He said that the U.S. strongly opposes the position which was created under the single permanent agenda item for every single meeting of the Human Rights Council, item 7, which is to discuss Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs. Kirby said, “We not only oppose this one-sided mandate, but also all HRC action taken under this item,” such as this Special Rapporteur.

In a desperate attempt at a last minute save from a complete fail for his team, the Al Quds reporter Said Arikat grasped at the one possible ray of hope in Kirby’s statement on the subject.

“But you just said that you hope that his successor will have a more fair and balanced approach. So you do support that position [of Special Rapporteur],” Arikat prodded.

Kirby put a lid on it: no. The U.S. is opposed to the whole idea of the special position and the special item on the HRC agenda that single out Israel. No. Period. However, the U.S. recognizes that the decision to create those one-sided items are within the purview of the U.N., so if they are going to fill the position, the U.S. hopes it will be filled by someone who is impartial.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:
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