The UN siding with Hamas over PLO; why Abbas is trying to fire UN expert Richard Falk

Richard Falk is scheduled to present his latest report tomorrow morning to the UN Human Rights Council.  Why was his overdue report delayed several times, about which we first reported in February?

Because of the Palestinian Authority’s newly acquired hostility to the person they themselves nominated to be the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent investigator of alleged Israeli violations in the Palestinian territories.

According to Palestinian reports, the PA hates Falk, and is trying to get him fired, because he has sided with Hamas and insulted Abbas and his UN envoys. Specific PA objections to earlier drafts of the report were due to Falk’s recognition of Hamas as the legitimate ruler in Gaza. For more on the controversy, see the report by Marian Houk quoting an inside UN source.

Al Jazeera Interview: Falk Calls Abbas Decision “Perverse,” Accuses Palestinian Authority of “Betrayal,” Slams “inadequacy of Palestinian representation at an international level

On October 7, 2009, Falk told Al Jazeera that PA President Abbas’s endorsement of deferring the UN’s adopting of the Goldstone Report was “”perverse. He went further: “The Palestinians have betrayed their own people.”

“For the Palestinians’ representatives in the UN themselves to seem to undermine this report, is an astonishing development.” The Goldstone report, said Falk, “has exposed the inadequacy of Palestinian representation at an international level.” He repeated this charge again [see minute 3:30].

Palestinian Authority told Falk to quit

In March, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, based in Bethlehem, reported that Falk said the Palestinian Authority urged him to step down after he criticized its treatment of the Goldstone Report.

Falk confirmed reports that the joint PA-PLO mission to the UN in Geneva also delayed consideration in the UN Human Rights Council of his most recent report alleging Israeli abuses of Palestinians’ rights. Arabic-language news reports of the delay surfaced last week.”

Falk said PA officials formally approached him in February asking him to resign, arguing that he is unable to carry out his responsibilities since Israel detained him at Ben Gurion International Airport and deported him in late 2008.

But, he stressed in an interview, “what they [the PA] say formally and what they say informally are quite different.”

“Informally they say different things, things that are essentially untrue, that my health doesn’t me allow to do the job or that I’m a partisan of Hamas,” he added.

Falk’s mandate is narrowly defined to include only the human rights record of the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied West Bank and Gaza – he does not report to the UN on the actions of the PA or the Hamas government in Gaza.

But Falk did raise hackles in Ramallah when he publicly criticized the PA for delaying UN action on judge Richard Goldstone’s report…  He says the PA-appointed ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khreishah, put forward a resolution in a recent plenary session of the Human Rights Council that delayed a discussion of his own report on Israeli rights violations from March until June. The resolution passed unanimously.

Falk, a Princeton international law expert, said he is “not happy” about the PA’s actions, but has no plans to resign. “I feel that it’s very important not to succumb to this pressure…We’re supposed to be independent,” he added…

Commentator Nadia Hijab… reported that in February, 11 Palestinian human rights groups wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressing dismay at the PA actions toward Falk. According to Hijab, the rights groups’ letter called Falk’s reports “powerful instruments to advocate for Palestinian people’s rights.”

Hijab also wrote that 19 Palestinian groups further wrote to Abbas, criticizing Falk’s treatment and “pointing out the repercussions for the Palestinians’ internationally recognized human rights.

The delay of Falk’s report also caught the attention of Hamas leaders in Gaza. On Monday, The justice minister in the Hamas-controlled government in Gaza, Muhammad Faraj Al-Ghoul, held a news conference denouncing the delay as an effort to “kill the report and give Israel a cover for its crimes.”

Indeed, Hamas has repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the reports of Goldstone and Falk.

Falk Accuses PA President Abbas of Corrupt Cellular Concessions Deal for Deferring Goldstone Report Adoption

Falk was also notably absent from the UNHRC special session in October 2009 that, two weeks after the deferral, ended up adopting the Goldstone Report.

This was likely a result of his Al Jazeera interview above as well as his public accusation of Mahmoud Abbas’ sons of “falsely possessing the Wataniya telecommunications Company,” as reported by Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Falk accused Abbas of delaying the UN vote on the Goldstone report out of self-interest, accusing his two sons, Yaser and Tariq, who reportedly held ownership stakes in the Wataniya cellular phone company. Wataniya planned to begin operations in the Palestinian territories, but considered removing its $700 million investment at the refusal of the Israeli government to release the necessary radio signals. Falk claimed that Abbas promised to delay the report in exchange for Israel’s guarantee to issue the radio frequencies. 

The embattled PA President responded with a demand that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lead an “official investigation” into Falk’s allegations.

From Agence France-Presse, October 14, 2009:

[UN spokepseron Michele] Montas said that, in his conversation with Ban, Abbas took strong exception to comments made by UN special rapporteur Richard Falk.

Falk, an expert on the Palestinian territories, alleged that the ownership by Abbas’ two sons in the al-Wataniya cellular phone company was behind their father’s decision to agree to put off the UN vote on the Goldstone report.

The deferral sparked speculation that Israel was about to refuse to release badly needed frequencies to run al-Wataniya Palestine, a mobile company that has invested over 700 million dollars in the Palestinian areas, unless the UN vote was postponed.

However, Falk later retracted his claim and apologized. The statement reads: “Having now examined the ownership records of al Wataniya Mobile. I find no evidence of any company ownership by members of family of the President of Palestine authority Mr. M. Abbas in particular on the part of his sons. Yasser nor Tarek.”

Falk loves conspiracy theories. He is one of the leading promoters of the conspiracy theory that the US government was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Last year, he made the claim that “any student of 9/11 is aware of the many serious discrepancies between the official version of what took place and the actual happenings on that fateful day in 2001.”

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