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U.N. Human Rights Envoy Recommends U.N. Quit the Quartet

The United Nations’ human rights envoy is recommending the world body withdraw its membership from the Quartet of Middle East peace brokers.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 10/15/2007, 5:08 PM

John Dugard, employed as an independent expert (special rapporteur) to the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission, has called on the U.N. to quit the Quartet of Mideast peace brokers if the international body does not address alleged human rights violations by Israel.

“In my most recent report to the General Assembly, which I will present later this month, I will suggest that the Secretary-General withdraw the U.N. from the Quartet, if the Quartet fails to have regard to the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories,” he said.

Dugard said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Monday that the Quartet, which also includes Russia, the United States and the European Union, is “heavily influenced” by the U.S., weakening the international group’s effectiveness.

“Every time I visit, the situation seems to have worsened,” he said. “This time, I was very struck by the sense of hopelessness among the Palestinian people.”  That hopelessness was also noted in a report by the Economist magazine, albeit attributed to different causes.

Dugard added that the U.N. “does itself little good” by remaining in the Quartet, due to human rights violations by Israel in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Israel’s security checkpoints, which have enabled the IDF to prevent dozens of intended terrorist attacks, are used as a method of collective punishment against the Arab population, he said, “to make the life of Palestinians as miserable as possible.”

Yitzchak Levanon, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, says that Dugard and the entire U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva are obsessed with the “desire to continue with [its] unending odyssey of bashing a single U.N. member state.”

At a meeting in Geneva last month, Ambassador Levanon also blasted a decision to hold a special debate on Israel during each session of the council, calling it a “flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of equality.”

The Geneva-based UN Watch organization, headed by former US Ambassador to Romania Alfred H. Moses, says regarding Dugard: "His reports stand out, even by UN standards, for their virulently anti-Israel prejudice.  Not only does Dugard systematically ignore Palestinian acts of terror and their victims, but he has gone so far as to laud Palestinian 'militarized groups armed with rifles, mortars, and Kassam-2 rockets [who] confront the [Israeli army] with new determination, daring, and success.'"

Dugard, a retired South African professor of international law. is considered an expert on apartheid. As permanent investigator of Israel’s actions in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, he has also been criticized in the past for accusing Israel of apartheid policies in the PA territories.

Although he acknowledged that Israel does indeed face a threat to its security, Dugard charged that “its response is very disproportionate.”

He also warned that the upcoming U.S. Mideast summit scheduled for next month might end in a third intifada by PA Arabs against Israel due to unrealistic expectations raised among the population by the PA leadership.

Dugard added that this should come as no surprise, since “in a military occupation, there are likely to be those engaged in resistance.” 

The U.N. human rights expert said although some might refer to those who attack Israeli civilians as terrorists, history looks at the picture quite differently. He compared PA terrorists to members of the French resistance to the Nazi invaders during World War II and those in Namibia who fought occupation by South Africa. “Now they are in the government and treated as heroes,” he said.

Dugard did not address the issue of the wide-scale human rights violations by Fatah and Hamas terrorists and militia forces perpetrated against their own people, in addition to their attacks on Israeli citizens.

Instead, Dugard claimed the U.N. “should be playing the role of mediator” between the warring Hamas and Fatah terrorist factions who are fighting for control of the PA.

“The international community has given its support almost completely to one faction, to Fatah. That’s not the role the U.N. should take,” he contended.

Hamas has squelched any attempt by journalists to document its human rights violations in Gaza, which it seized in June as part of its bloody civil war with Fatah.