UN report: Israel’s West Bank policies are undermining international legal order

Francesca Albanese, who has been accused of antisemitism, calls on PA security cooperation with Israel to cease over ‘settler-colonial apartheid’ crimes

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

File - UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese addresses the UN, October 2022. (Screenshot/ YouTube, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
File - UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese addresses the UN, October 2022. (Screenshot/ YouTube, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The UN official tasked with examining Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza presented in Geneva on Monday a scathing report accusing the Jewish state of collectively imprisoning the Palestinians, sexually abusing Palestinian women, and “challenging the very foundations of the international legal order.”

In her “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” Francesca Albanese called on UN member states to prosecute Israeli officials under universal jurisdiction, and urged Palestinian Authority security forces to suspend cooperation with Israel “that may lead to violating fundamental rights and freedoms under international law.”

“A 10,700-word report cannot capture the scale and extent of the arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the occupied Palestinian territory,” she wrote. “Nor can it convey the suffering of millions of Palestinians who have, directly or indirectly, been affected.”

Albanese has a history of antisemitism, which she has not explicitly apologized for, instead denouncing criticism of her rhetoric as a smear campaign.

In her report, Albanese accused Israel of torture, mistreating Palestinian corpses, coercing gay Palestinians to provide information, and “invasive strip searches, sexual abuse, and threats” toward women.

She also denounced Palestinian self-rule, saying it “has added a layer of repression to Palestinian life under occupation.”

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early on the morning of May 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

“The security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has pioneered a direct connection between Palestinian and Israeli detention apparatuses,” she wrote.

“Arbitrary arrests and detention carried out by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip have contributed to stifling Palestinians’ rights and freedoms,” she continued, not naming the Hamas terror organization throughout her report.

Albanese did not mention Palestinian terrorism in her report. The closest she came was a sentence in the conclusion: “Without condoning crimes that Palestinians have committed during decades of illegal occupation, most criminal convictions of Palestinians have been the result of a litany of violations of international law, including due process violations, that taint the legitimacy of the administration of justice by the occupying power.”

She also accused Israel of “settler-colonial apartheid” and referred to Israeli communities past the Green Line as “colonies.”

The Italian lawyer also took Israel’s Supreme Court to task for approving its policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli security forces in action while Palestinians protest against Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, in the Palestinian village of Haris, June 26, 2020. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

In 2014, Albanese said that the “Jewish lobby” controls the US, in comments first exposed by The Times of Israel.

She has also sympathized with terror organizations, dismissed Israeli security concerns, compared Israelis to Nazis, accused the Jewish state of potential war crimes, said that Israel controlled the BBC, and claimed that the Jewish state started wars out of greed.

In February, a bipartisan group of US Congress members urged UN leadership to remove Albanese from her position.

Israel did not allow her to enter Palestinian areas for her report. The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

The International Legal Forum, a pro-Israel NGO, called the report “yet another display in unvarnished anti-Israel bias and greenlighting of Palestinian terror, that is devoid of reality and absent any shred of legal basis.”

Both the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have been heavily criticized by Israel and the US for a lopsided focus on the Jewish state. Israel has accused the Palestinians, who have nonmember observer state status at the UN, of trying to use the world body to circumvent peace negotiations.

Luke Tress contributed to this report.

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