UN rights official slammed for urging economic sanctions on Israel

Special Rapporteur on Palestinian territories Michael Lynk panned by Israeli envoy after saying increased pressure on Jewish state could lead to ‘sea change’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Michael Lynk briefs reporters at UN headquarters in New York on October 26, 2017. (Kim Haughton/UN)
Michael Lynk briefs reporters at UN headquarters in New York on October 26, 2017. (Kim Haughton/UN)

Israel’s ambassador criticized a United Nations human rights official Thursday for urging economic and travel sanctions against Israel to force a withdrawal from the West Bank.

Danny Danon said the United Nations Human Rights Council had “lost its legitimacy,” after the comments by Canadian law professor Michael Lynk, who is the council’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories.

“Mr. Lynk is exploiting his position to spread hateful incitement against the State of Israel and is acting as a BDS activist under the auspices of the UN,” Danon said in a statement, using the acronym for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that seeks to pressure Israel into withdrawing from territories claimed by the Palestinians.

During a press briefing Thursday, Lynk urged sanctions against Israel, basing his recommendation on a report he released earlier this week that cited South Africa’s occupation of Namibia as a precedent and calling for the international community to step up pressure on Israel.

“Israel is very dependent upon trade with the outside world,” he said in response to a question on whether sanctions could have an affect on Israel. “If there was an understanding that all of a sudden Israelis wanting to travel abroad needed to have visas, if all of a sudden there was an understanding that Israel wasn’t going to get preferential trading agreements with the EU [European Union]. If all of a sudden, the many and multitude forms of military or economic cooperation or academic cooperation with Israel were now going to come to an end… I think you’d begin to see a sea change in the attitude of ordinary Israelis and in the attitude of the Israeli government.”

Lynk also used the example of North Korea as a comparison, though he emphasized that the two countries were not the same.

Danny Danon, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on October 18, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

After the comments, Danon slammed Lynk and the Human Rights Council, which is regularly criticized by Israeli and US officials for devoting disproportional time to Israel and being biased against the Jewish state.

“The UN Human Rights Council has lost its legitimacy as it focuses obsessively on attacking Israel instead of working on resolving the real human rights problems plaguing the world,” Danon said. “The Council has lost all touch with reality and the original intent upon which it was founded.”

The statement also called out Lynk for saying that “Gaza remains occupied,” and that the BDS movement is “a form of free expression for people anywhere to protest any company or country.”

Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. In response to questions about the statement, Lynk said that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, in place since 2007, amounts to a form of occupation.

While Israel has been widely criticized for maintaining the blockade on Gaza, Jerusalem insists it is necessary to prevent the Hamas terror group from acquiring weapons to be used in attacks on the Jewish state.

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