January, 17 2001
JERUSALEM (January 17) - The Foreign Ministry yesterday directed its representatives in Geneva not to have anything to do with an inquiry committee set up by the UN Human Rights Commission, which is slated to arrive here shortly to investigate alleged Israeli human-rights violations.
The establishment of the committee was one of the operative decisions stemming from a resolution the commission passed in October condemning Israel for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" in its dealing with the Aksa intifada.
At the time, Israel said it would not cooperate in any way with the work of the inquiry committee or assist it in implementing what it said was a "one-sided" resolution.
That resolution, which condemned Israel for "grave and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people," passed by a vote of 19 to 16, with 17 abstentions.
Mordechai Yedid, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for UN and international organizations, said that Israel has the moral right not to cooperate with the committee, since a majority of those on the Human Rights Commission - including a majority of the world's developed countries - voted against or abstained from voting on the resolution. And many of those who voted for it - countries like Cuba, Sudan, Morocco, and Pakistan - are not exactly beacons of human rights.
Furthermore, Yedid added that one of the three members of the panel, Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton University, wrote an article in the winter issue of Middle East Journal in which he demonstrated a strong bias against Israel.
"Throughout the occupation and very visibly during the two uprisings, Israel has reacted to Palestinian resistance with the excessive use of lethal force, including the targeting of civilians and children," Falk wrote, before coming here as part of the inquiry committee.
The resolution establishing this committee said that its membership "should be based on the principles of independence and objectivity, to gather and compile information on violations of human rights and acts which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory by the Israeli occupying power."
And finally, Yedid said, there is no reason for yet another international committee, at a time when the Mitchell fact-finding committee is scheduled to arrive next week and investigate the causes of the recent round of violence.
The directives to Israel's representatives abroad not to cooperate with the human-rights inquiry committee comes just a day after the Foreign Ministry expressed anger that the technical team for the Mitchell fact-finding committee went to the Temple Mount earlier this week without first coordinating that visit with Israel.