Embattled UN investigator says he won’t step aside
GENEVA (AP) — A United Nations special investigator said Tuesday his reputation is being smeared and he won’t resign, despite calls for his ouster over provocative remarks about terrorism, the United States and Israeli policy.
Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told reporters in Geneva that he is only doing his job, and “it’s important to distinguish criticism from this kind of smear campaign.”
In public remarks and reports sharply critical of Israeli settlement policy, Falk has repeatedly run afoul of advocacy groups such as UN Watch, which accuses him of anti-Semitism, and the United States, which called for his resignation.
The Geneva-based UN Watch, which is affiliated with the more than century-old American Jewish Committee, has campaigned for the U.N. Human Rights Council to remove Falk from his position. Falk, in turn, has urged the council to investigate UN Watch’s self-appointed watchdog credentials.
“I don’t intend to resign, and there doesn’t seem to be any formal initiative that is seeking my dismissal,” said Falk, a Princeton University emeritus professor of international law.
“I have never entertained any kind of hatred of Jews, being a Jew myself, and I’m not a self-hating Jew,” he added. “The attack on the messenger is a way of diverting attention away from the message.”
Falk reports to the 47-nation Human Rights Council, which Israel stopped cooperating with last year.
Israel has accused the U.N.’s top human rights body of being biased against the Jewish state because it regularly criticizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. But Israel’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva expressed interest last week in rekindling his country’s relationship with the Geneva-based council.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected Falk’s written commentary suggesting the Boston marathon bombings could be explained in part as resistance to “American global domination.”
The U.S. ambassador to council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, also criticized the commentary, saying: Falk’s “continued offensive communications do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights” and demonstrate once again that he is unfit to serve as a U.N. special investigator.