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Member of UN Gaza probe apologizes for ‘Jewish lobby’ remark slammed as antisemitic

Miloon Kothari, member of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission, June 14, 2022. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)
Miloon Kothari, member of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission, June 14, 2022. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

A member of the UN’s ongoing, open-ended Commission of Inquiry into last year’s 11-day fight between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has issued an apology for remarks he made last month, which were widely slammed as antisemitic and condemned by at least 16 countries.

Miloon Kothari, a member of the commission, told a podcast last month that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and questioned why Israel is allowed to be a member of the UN, sparking widespread criticism and calls for his dismissal or the commission’s disbanding.

The head of the commission claimed the remarks had been “deliberately misrepresented,” the UN’s top rights official asked for clarifications, and Prime Minister Yair Lapid urged the disbandment of the “tainted” probe.

In a public letter, Kothari says he would like to “sincerely express my regret and unequivocally apologize,” adding that “the offense I have caused by using these words has deeply distressed me.”

He says his comments on Israel’s UN membership were aimed at highlighting “the non-compliance of Israel with UN decisions related to its obligations under international law.” He argues that he never “questioned the existence of the State of Israel.”

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