Amb. Alan Baker
On 31 January 2013 the “International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” published its findings on the implications of Israeli settlements on the human rights of the Palestinian people.
The enabling resolution of the Human Rights Council, the composition of the mission, its mandate, mode of operation, and substantive content are, from the outset, based on a premise that considers Israel’s settlement policy to be illegal. This premise dictates the one-sided and prejudiced nature of the mission and its report.
The accepted usage in UN and other international bodies of the term “occupied Palestinian territories” (OPT) is legally flawed and indicative of the inherent bias accompanying this entire exercise. There has never been any determination that the West Bank territories are in fact “Palestinian territories.” The use of the expression “OPT” constitutes a politically biased and unjustified prejudgment as to the legal status of the territories, which remain “disputed territories” pending agreement between the parties.
The report is based entirely on material submitted by a small number of Israeli, Palestinian, and international non-governmental organizations known for their anti-Israel agenda, residents of the territories, a left-wing-oriented Israeli newspaper (while ignoring other newspapers that take a different stand), UN bodies, and even the Jordanian foreign ministry.
The following critique of this inherently one-sided report by the fact-finding mission outlines some examples of the blatant bias, lack of objectivity and unprofessional conduct of the mission, calling upon the UN Secretary General to reject the report in its entirety.
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Ambassador (ret.) Alan Baker is former Legal Counsel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and former Israeli Ambassador to Canada. He is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.