UN Palestine expert criticised for settlement boycott call

By Jennifer Lipman, October 26, 2012
Susan Rice (Photo: AP)

Susan Rice (Photo: AP)

The UN official who posted an antisemitic cartoon on his personal blog last year has urged the international community to boycott companies with links to settlements.

The US, the UK and Israel have criticised UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk over the boycott call, with the US envoy to the UN stating that such action would not further the progress of a peace deal.

Mr Falk, whose role refers specifically to human rights in the Palestinian territories, listed firms including Hewlett Packard and Motorola, Veolia Environment and the Volvo Group in his comments.

He told the General Assembly that any company that is involved in the creation of maintenance of settlements should be subject to a boycott by the UN and civil society "until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards".

Mr Falk, who is a law professor at Princeton University, has made controversial comments in the past, including insinuating that the US government was behind the September 11 terror attacks. Last year David Cameron said he "strongly condemned" a cartoon depicting a dog wearing a kippah and urinating, which MR Falk had posted on his blog.

"His call for a boycott of private companies is irresponsible and unacceptable," said Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN. "Throughout his tenure, Mr Falk has been highly biased and made offensive statements.

"His recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and indeed poison the environment for peace."

The British government has now complained to the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. In a letter, Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi described Mr Falk’s comments as unacceptable”.

A spokesperson for the Israeli mission to the UN condemned his findings as "completely divorced from reality", noting that Mr Falk "fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas".

Last updated: 4:46pm, October 30 2012