Pro-Israel groups letter to UN slammed as ‘underhand attempt to undermine the international legal order’

President of the Human Rights Council Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan (Fabrice Coffrini - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 24, 2022

Israeli lobby group, NGO Monitor, has intensified its campaign against the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestine. With a new appointment for the position expected to be made in the coming months, the Israeli group sent a letter to UN Human Rights Council President Nazhat Shameem Khan, urging her not to consider the candidates applying for the position because of their “anti-Israel partisanship”.

The Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 was created in 1993. Appointments for the position have always been made through an independent process overseen by the Human Rights Council. Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff members; they do not receive a salary from the United Nations, and do not work for any government or interest group, allowing them to maintain their independence.

The current Special Rapporteur is Canadian law professor Michael Lynk who was appointed in 2016. Like his predecessor, Professor Richard Falk and before him South African judge John Dugard, Special Rapporteurs on Palestine have received extremely hostile reception from Israel, which regularly obstructs their work by denying them entry to the occupied territories.

In its letter to Khan, a copy of which was shared by Palestinian legal group, Al-Haq in a tweet, NGO Monitor says that five of the six candidates have displayed anti-Israel bias and therefore should not be considered for the post. Pro-Israel groups often use such arguments to defame critics of the occupation state as anti-Sematic.

The letter claims that the three former Special Rapporteurs “are responsible for promoting” what it calls “the apartheid slander and BDS” referring to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

In fact, Israel’s practice of apartheid has been known for decades with former Israeli prime ministers and diplomats warning that the occupation state’s future would mirror the racism of South-Africa under white rule. Most recently prominent human rights groups Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem published detailed reports on Israel’s practice of apartheid and promotion and perpetuation of Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Al-Haq slammed the letter describing it as an “underhand attempt to undermine the international legal order.” The group explained that the letter is “part of an ongoing assault against Palestinian rights & those who defend them, supported by the State of Israel, based on unsubstantiated, baseless & ridiculous grounds. Every person has the right to freedom of expression, association & assembly”.