The UN investigator for human rights violations in the Palestinian territories has resigned, saying that Israel had reneged on its pledge to grant him access to the West Bank and Gaza.
Makarim Wibisono said that his repeated oral and written requests for access had gone unanswered over 18 months. Announcing his resignation, Mr Wibisono voiced “deep concern at the lack of effective protection of Palestinian victims of continuing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law”.
Israel has long rejected the post of the independent investigator for the Occupied Territories, accusing the 47-country forum of bias against the Jewish state.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the mandate given to the rapporteur is “distorted and biased” and noted Mr Wibisono wasn’t the first person to resign the post.
“Israeli human rights are violated too, every day, by Palestinians and until ignoring this ends the council will not be taken seriously,” Mr Nahshon added.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed the latter. Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as their capital. In 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza, which is now run by the Hamas group.
Mr Wibisono, a former Indonesian diplomat, took up the post of United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories in June 2014. In his first report to the council, in March 2015, he said Israel should investigate the killing of more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, one-third of them children, during the 2014 Gaza war, and make the findings public.
His resignation will come into effect on 31 March, after his final report to the council. Mr Wibisono said that his efforts to fulfil his mandate were “frustrated every step of the way”, adding the Palestinian government had co-operated fully.
“I hope that whoever succeeds me will manage to resolve the current impasse, and so reassure the Palestinian people that after nearly half a century of occupation the world has not forgotten their plight,” Mr Wibisono said.