UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. special investigator on human rights in the Palestinian territories called Wednesday for a boycott of all companies that have dealings with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem until they adhere to international rights standards and practices.
Israel and the U.S. quickly rejected Richard Falk's report, accusing the U.N. special rapporteur of bias against Israel and calling for his removal.
In a report presented to the U.N. General Assembly, Falk said a number of Israeli-owned and multinational corporations headquartered in the U.S., Europe and Mexico appear to be violating international human rights and humanitarian laws by exploiting Palestinian resources and helping Israel construct illegal settlements and provide security for them. However, he said further investigations will be made to determine whether the allegations are well-founded.
Falk said the call for a boycott is an effort to take infractions of international law seriously and "use what influence we have to change behavior." He said the pace of Israeli settlement building has accelerated and Israel has ignored U.N. resolutions condemning the practice, so "there is a sense that what the U.N. says doesn't count."
Falk, an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, has previously angered Israel by comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and accusing it of crimes against humanity because of its treatment of Palestinians. Israel has barred Falk from visiting the Palestinian territories.
In the report, Falk reiterated his request that the Israeli government cooperate with his efforts, as he said it is required to do under the U.N. Charter.
Israel's U.N. Mission called the report "grossly biased" and called for Falk to be replaced.
"Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow," said Karaen Peretz, spokeswoman for the Israeli Mission. "While he spends pages and pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas."
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice called Falk "highly biased" and his appeal for a boycott "irresponsible and unacceptable."
"Mr. Falk's recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace," she said in a statement. "His continued service in the role of a U.N. Special Rapporteur is deeply regrettable and only damages the credibility of the U.N."
The Anti-Defamation League called on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to rescind his preliminary endorsement of the report and to distance his office from Falk, who was appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
But in the General Assembly, representatives from several countries including Egypt and Iran called Falk's report fair and balanced.