GENEVA: A United Nations rights expert issued a blistering criticism of Israel’s policies on Monday.
In a report, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, charged Israel with “the subjugation of (Palestinians’) humanity” and intensifying a crackdown on human rights campaigners.
The report is written in two parts. First, the report provides an overview of the current human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory while the second part of the report examines the work of human rights defenders in the territory.
“Hostile atmosphere for human rights defenders has since become even more overtly toxic and harsh since 2015, in the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 and the subsequent initiation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of a preliminary investigation with the cooperation of a number of Palestinian human rights defenders into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the most recent Gaza conflict and by Israel’s settlement project.” says the report.
The report further says that Al-Haq, a leading Palestinian human rights organization, has endured a grievous pattern of threats, cyber-attacks and a campaign of attempted interference with their work by persons unknown.
Lynk made the claims in a report presented to the UN rights council during the Geneva-based body’s mandated session on Israel, known as Agenda Item Seven.
The Jewish state and its supporters, notably in Washington, have repeatedly highlighted Agenda Item Seven as evidence of the council’s credibility gap, arguing it cannot be effective while disproportionately targeting Israel.
President Donald Trump’s administration has taken those concerns to the next level, with top diplomat Rex Tillerson publicly threatening to withdraw from the council over its “biased agenda item against Israel.”
The State Department blasted the council again Monday for holding its Israel debate and vowed in a statement “to vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item.”
Washington also boycotted Monday’s event that saw a group of majority Muslim nations repeatedly denounce Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The European Union condemned the continuing loss of life on all sides but voiced concern that Lynk’s mandate and the Israel debate was one-sided.
Lynk’s scathing findings were issued days after UN official Rima Khalaf resigned over another report in which she accused Israel of being an “apartheid state”.
Khalaf, a Jordanian national, said she had resisted a request from UN chief Antonio Guterres to withdraw the report.
Trump’s administration had demanded that the report by UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia be withdrawn and welcomed Khalaf’s resignation.
Meanwhile, as part of its obligations under the Israel agenda item, Guterres’s office presented its latest findings to the council on Monday.
“Chronic violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties have persisted,” the secretary general’s office said, condemning Israel over settlement expansion among other offences.
Guterres faces heightened risks in taking on Trump’s administration over Israel.
Washington funds roughly a quarter of all UN activities but Trump’s initial budget proposal foresees significant reductions.
Guterres’s office last week urged the US to rethink any “abrupt funding cuts.”

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