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UN expert Richard Falk: PA told me to quit
Published Tuesday 09/03/2010 (updated) 22/06/2010 18:13
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UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk appears in an undated file photo
By Jared Malsin

Chicago – Ma'an – Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, said on Monday the Palestinian Authority (PA) urged him to step down after he criticized the PA’s treatment of a UN war crimes report.

Falk confirmed reports that the joint PA-PLO mission to the UN in Geneva also delayed consideration in the UN Human Rights Council of his most recent report alleging Israeli abuses of Palestinians’ rights. Arabic-language news reports of the delay surfaced last week.

Falk said PA officials formally approached him in February asking him to resign, arguing that he is unable to carry out his responsibilities since Israel detained him at Ben Gurion International Airport and deported him in late 2008.

But, he stressed in an interview, "what they [the PA] say formally and what they say informally are quite different."

"Informally they say different things, things that are essentially untrue, that my health doesn’t me allow to do the job or that I’m a partisan of Hamas," he added.

Falk’s mandate is narrowly defined to include only the human rights record of the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza – he does not report to the UN on the actions of the PA or the Hamas government in Gaza.

But Falk did raise hackles in Ramallah when he publicly criticized the PA for delaying UN action on judge Richard Goldstone’s report that accused Israel and Palestinian militias of committing war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Goldstone’s report dealt with the three-week attack that left some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision, under US pressure, to delay a vote in the UN Human Rights Council on Goldstone’s report provoked a political crisis, including calls for Abbas to step down, and for the dissolution of the PA. Rights groups slammed Abbas for harming their efforts to bring accused war criminals to justice.

Now, Falk says Abbas’ men have done the same to his own report. He says the PA-appointed ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khreishah, put forward a resolution in a recent plenary session of the Human Rights Council that delayed a discussion of his own report on Israeli rights violations from March until June. The resolution passed unanimously.

Falk, a Princeton international law expert, said he is "not happy" about the PA’s actions, but has no plans to resign. "I feel that it’s very important not to succumb to this pressure...We're supposed to be independent," he added.

Although Israel has not allowed him to visit the occupied territories since his deportation, Falk says he follows up with reports by respected human rights NGOs on the ground.

He further said that, as in the case of the Goldstone report, the US and Israel could have pressured the PA into scuttling international action on his own report.

Riyad Mansour, the PLO’s ambassador to the UN in New York, said he was not aware of any official calls for Falk to resign, and was “not involved” with the decision to delay consideration of Falk’s report.

"I would check with Geneva about their reasoning," he said over the phone from New York. Mansour added that he enjoys good relations with Falk and planned to meet with him on Thursday.

Ma’an’s repeated phone calls to the Palestinian mission at the UN in Geneva were not returned.

The PA’s apparent attempt to isolate Falk has also triggered criticism from civil society.

Commentator Nadia Hijab, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, wrote that Falk "has been attacked by Israel for years. But now, in a new twist, he is being hung out to dry by the Palestinian Authority in perhaps the unkindest cut of all."

Writing for Agence Global, Hijab also reported that in February, 11 Palestinian human rights groups wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressing dismay at the PA actions toward Falk.

According to Hijab, the rights groups' letter called Falk’s reports "powerful instruments to advocate for Palestinian people’s rights."

Hijab also wrote that 19 Palestinian groups further wrote to Abbas, criticizing Falk’s treatment and “pointing out the repercussions for the Palestinians’ internationally recognized human rights.

The delay of Falk’s report also caught the attention of Hamas leaders in Gaza. On Monday, The justice minister in the Hamas-controlled government in Gaza, Muhammad Faraj Al-Ghoul, held a news conference denouncing the delay as an effort to "kill the report and give Israel a cover for its crimes."
1 ) Nour / Palestine
09/03/2010 06:56
The PA/PLO camp ask ANYONE who criticise them to either leave or quit. Recall the Al-Jazeera fiasco when they shut it down for 2 weeks, after they criticised corruption in its ranks. Also, when Shabana came forth, Al-Jazeera had learnt its lesson - Has anyone noticed? Further proof that the PA is another nascent Arab dictatorship, disrespecting civil rights and democratic principals despite all window-dressing and propaganda aired on Palestine TV and other media.

2 ) Nour / Palestine
09/03/2010 06:56
In brief, the PA can go to hell.

3 ) Elias / Palestine
09/03/2010 08:39
the actions of the leadership of fateh is a godsend for hamas.neither of them achieve anything.the u.s. oslo plan needs to be done away with.as a start...

4 ) Mohammad / Palestine
09/03/2010 08:45
And now the PA is advertising the municipal elections in mid-March, without Hamas of course. Sham elections will be another step towards a dictatorial system similar to those in the neighboring countries.

5 ) Solange / Canada
09/03/2010 09:05
I agree with Nour. The PA can go to hell!

09/03/2010 15:39
I agree with both sides, they can all go to hell & the sooner the better, so the situation can calm down and everyone can return to a normal quiet life

7 ) Elias / al-quds,palestine
09/03/2010 18:22
Benjabo:stay in usa.

8 ) Elias / al-quds,palestine
09/03/2010 18:25
Benjabo:stay in usa.

9 ) Mahmoud "The Dude" Lebowski / USA
09/03/2010 19:14
The PA never turns down an opportunity to show that they are corrupt.

10 ) Julie / USA
09/03/2010 20:16
Nour and Solange..fortunately, the PA will go to hell for their actions :)

Ben..not wasting my time on your pettiness other than to say i doubt i'm the only one looking forward to when you're quiet.

Richard Falk is the best thing the UN ever did for Palestinian human rights. BRAVO to him for not succumbing to PA's pressure to step down!! i hope and pray enough non-corrupt officials scream loud enough non-stop to oust the toxic snakes suffocating Pals' voices and human rights.

11 ) naser / usa
10/03/2010 06:22
Ben Jabo and Nour are now siding together against PA. Also zoinism sides against PA. But who cares. Fateh will allways be superior regardless of what trash people think. They are the ravelutionary movement that all world learn from. Do not forget the hestory ok Nour and Ben

10/03/2010 07:45
8) Elias, I must inform you, that unlike yourself, I am in both the USA and Israel, while you remain safely esconsed outside of Palestine
Pray tell what have you done for your cause, other than type?
I served in the IDF to back up my beliefs while you merely pass wind

10) Julie
As usual, your contradict yourself, claiming you're not wasting time, then going ahead and doing it
If you believe so firmly in your cause, you should be where you're talking about

13 ) Nour / Palestine
10/03/2010 11:10
#11 My guess is that you're above 60 years old. Wake up Naser, the world today, the people today, Fatah of today, is not the same as the one in 1964. Wake up and smell the mana2eesh, Fatah has been corrupted - beyond repair. All the honorable and clean leaders in the West Bank today belong to other factions. I challenge to name me one leader in Fatah today who leads by example. They are unwelcome, and will be defeated democratically God willing.

10/03/2010 16:32
boy are you sadly misinformed, I most certainly don't side with the likes of Nour..
Of course Zionism is against the PA, since the PA is against Zionism, and it clearly calls for the destruction of Israel in it's charter..

15 ) Wydadi / Palestine
11/03/2010 02:57
Ben jabo,

Sooner or later Palestine will prevail and don't foul yourself zionism and PA are on the same bed cause they need each other.

11/03/2010 17:34
Wydadi / Palestine

Don't hold your breath while waiting, you'll turn blue first

17 ) Wydadi / Palestine
13/03/2010 00:32
Ben jabo,

Don't bet on time cause bielive me it's not on your side
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