Daily Israel Report

Samantha Power Blasts Re-election of Swiss Critic of Israel

U.S. ambassador to the UN trying to block the re-election of a Swiss diplomat who praised dictators while criticizing Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/20/2013, 4:45 AM

UNHRC mission
UNHRC mission
Flash 90

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, is trying to block the re-election of a Swiss diplomat accused of lavishing praise on dictators and abuse on Israel, the Washington Times reports.

Power took to Twitter to denounce Jean Ziegler, a former sociology professor and former Social Democrat member of the Swiss parliament, the report said.

“Indeed, Dr. Ziegler is unfit for continued service” at the UN Human Rights Council, Power wrote last week.

In her denunciation of Ziegler, she took on a 79-year-old fixture at the UN who has praised Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, while accusing Israel of human rights abuses.

Power, who was confirmed by the Senate at the beginning of August, has been criticized for past statements against Israel, including a 2002 interview in which she said that "external intervention" may be necessary to prevent "genocide" and "major human rights abuses" in the "Palestine/Israeli situation".

During that interview, Power responded to a hypothetical question and said that if given the opportunity she would advise the president to sacrifice billions of dollars of aid to the Jewish state, allocating the funds instead  to “the new state of Palestine.”

Two weeks before being confirmed, she appeared to have done a complete 180, slamming the UN’s "unacceptable bias" against Israel and pledging to lobby hard to get Israel a seat on the Security Council in 2018.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, praised Power for her latest stance on Ziegler and denounced Switzerland for nominating him for another term.

“We applaud the principled statement of Ambassador Power and urge the U.S. and other nations to actively fight the incomprehensible Swiss nomination,” said Neuer, whose Swiss-based group monitors human rights issues at the UN, according to the Washington Post.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry has defended the nomination, pointing to Ziegler’s service as a UN representative to fight world hunger from 2000 to 2008, according to the newspaper.

“One of his many achievements has been to make the right to food one of the main priorities of UN agencies and bodies which fight poverty and hunger,” the ministry said.

However, noted the Washington Post, the head of the UN World Food Program complained in 2002 about Ziegler’s incompetence.

He is “seriously damaging the efforts to respond to food crises around the world,” then-Executive Director James Morris wrote to Kofi Annan, at the time the UN secretary-general.