A United Nations report that accuses Israel of a “settler colonial conquest” of the West Bank was written by a lawyer who gave a speech at a Hamas conference and appeared on a Hezbollah-affiliated TV channel.
Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, claimed her paper provided a “bird’s-eye view of arbitrary deprivation of liberty as a key instrument of Israel’s domination and oppression”.
Albanese has been criticised for alleged anti-Israel bias since being appointed last May to investigate human rights violations in the West Bank.
In November, the Italian spoke to a Hamas-organised conference in Gaza also attended by senior members of terror groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Speaking to the assembled groups, she reportedly declared: “You have a right to resist this occupation.”
Examples of her alleged anti-Israel bias can be traced back to 2014 when Albanese claimed in a Facebook post that America had been “subjugated by the Jewish lobby” and that Europe would not criticise Israel because of its “sense of guilt about the Holocaust”.
She has since said she regrets the remarks. “Some of the words I used, during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014, were infelicitous, analytically inaccurate and unintendedly offensive [sic],” she told The Times of Israel.
“I distance myself from these words, which I would not use today, nor have used as a UN special rapporteur.”
A mural of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Leila Khaled in the West Bank (Getty Images)
Albanese has also previously praised the terrorist Leila Khaled, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Commenting on a 2015 news story which revealed that Khaled was to tour South Africa, Albanese wrote: “Go Leila go!”
Albanese has not responded to a request for comment regarding this post.
More recently, in response to a Twitter user who claimed last year that
“Palestinian armed resistance is a fundamental right”, Albanese said: “That is a necessary conversation to have. It has been demoted from public discussion.”
And earlier this year she appeared on Hezbollah-affiliated television channel Al Mayadeen, where she accused Israel of practising colonisation, segregation and apartheid.
Albanese’s UN report focuses on the “deprivation of liberty” suffered by Palestinians living on the West Bank.
Its conclusion recommends that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court open an investigation into Israel’s alleged use of torture against Palestinians in Israeli custody.
Francesca Albanese on a Hezbollah-affiliated channel
Dina Rovner, a legal adviser for pro-Israel advocacy group UN Watch, claimed Albanese’s Twitter history indicates she is not adhering to rules that require UN human rights experts to remain impartial.
Albanese’s social media posts show she is “unqualified for the position and should never have been selected in the first place,” Rovner said.
In February, a bipartisan group of 18 members of American Congress called for Albanese to be removed from her UN position because of her “inexcusable silence against terrorism targeting Israelis and her outrageous and prejudicial remarks”.
Two months later, three former rapporteurs urged the UN to publicly defend their successor, arguing that Albanese’s critics had subjected her to “slanderous” personal attacks.
Antonio Guterres, Volker Turk and Vaclav Balek said Albanese had “performed in an outstanding fashion… as an astute human rights analyst to raise the global awareness about the dire situation in occupied Palestine”.
They added that “attacks” on Albanese “demean” her personally and are “an attempt to diminish and eliminate” this human rights mandate.
Albanese was contacted for comment.