Monday, 19 March 2012
Netanyahu to UNHRC: You should be ashamed
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for facilitating an event featuring a Hamas politician Monday, just hours after four French Jews were gunned down in Toulouse.
“He represents an organization that indiscriminately targets children and grown-ups, and women and men. Innocents — is their special favorite target,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction in the Knesset.
“They kills Jews anywhere – that’s their constitution – kill Jews wherever you find them – that is what they do,” Netanyahu said.
He added that this particular parliamentarian had also condemned the United States for its targeted killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
“I have one thing to say to the UN Human Rights Council: What do you have to do with human rights? You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Council spokesman Rolando Gomez confirmed that Hamas parliamentarian Ismail al-Ashqar from Gaza had spoken at an NGO event in the building that was organized by the Ma’arij Foundation for Peace and Development.
The event was listed on the UNHRC web-site along with other NGO meetings.
It is one some 200 such events held in connection with the council’s 19th session, he said.
Such NGO meetings “are held in parallel to the HRC’s main session, they are not official HRC meetings,” Gomez said.
“The HRC has no responsibility what-so-ever regarding the issues discussed, the comments made and the participants [who are] invited,” Gomez said.
He noted that these speakers are not automatically granted access to the council’s official session. They can only address the council if they are invited to do so by an UN accredited NGO or state.
“As Mr. Ashqar was not accredited by an NGO or state, he did not participate in any official meetings of the Human Rights Council,” Gomez said.
Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the UN Service in Geneva added that access to UN grounds during the council session was granted based on security considerations, such as possible physical threats.
“As with other requests, UNOG security conducts the assessment based on available information and takes appropriate measures,” she said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar said he had been concerned that the Ma’arij Foundation would ask Ashqar to address the council, which on Monday debated five resolutions on Israel and the Palestinians.
He wrote a letter to UN officials in Geneva expressing his concern and asked that Ashqar not be allowed to enter the council chamber.
“I think it was made clear to him and to those that had invited him that this was not going to happen,” he said.
According to UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer the Ma’arij Foundation event did not draw that many participants. UN Watch posted a copy of the speech on its web site.
Ashqar spoke against Israel’s arrest of Hamas parliamentarians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, many of whom remain in jail.
“As you know, kidnapping parliamentarians is an anti-democratic and political crime,” he said.
“I am not representing Hamas, but the Palestinian people. Innovative illegal procedures for violating human rights are normal for Israel. What cannot be accepted is the fact that the international community does nothing about this,” Ashqar said.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN in New York Ron Prosor issued a statement protesting Ashqar’s speech.
“Inviting a Hamas terrorist to lecture to the world about human rights is like asking Charles Manson to run the murder investigation unit at the NYPD,” he said.
“Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization that fires rockets at civilians, tortures political opponents, subjugates women and uses children as suicide bombers,” Prosor said.