A one-sided UN inquiry against Israel from 2006 is now being revived. The spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today announced as follows:
An independent High Level Fact-Finding Mission by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin, of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, will visit Beit Hanoun during their mission to the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza on 27 and 28 May.
The High Level Fact-Finding Mission to Beit Hanoun was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in November 2006 after an Israeli attack resulted in the deaths of 19 people, including seven children. Archbishop Tutu and Professor Chinkin will enter Gaza from Egypt and, in addition to visiting Beit Hanoun itself, are scheduled to hold a range of meetings in Gaza, including with survivors and witnesses of the attack on 8 November 2006. The mission will submit a final report to the September session of the Human Rights Council.
The terms of this 2006 mandate presume Israel’s guilt and omit little details such as the Hamas rocket attacks from the areas to which Israel returned fire. Those were just some of the reasons why Professor Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister of Canada, turned down a request to join the mission, as he exlained in the Boston Globe here.
Since 2006, many things have happened — including in Beit Hanoun, which was already the subject of a mission by no less than High Commissioner Louise Arbour, shortly after the incident. For one thing, in June 2007 Palestinians were shooting at patients in the Beit Hanoun hospital. Will the the Tutu mission, whose terms are dictated by the Islamic-dominated Human Rights Council, consider those victims — about whom no UN commissioner has ever reported? Don’t bet on it.
Another thing. This would seem to be the first time that UN officials are entering Gaza via Egypt. But if the UN now formally acknowledges the geographic reality that Gaza also has a border with Egypt, can they sustain their curious position that Israel, after having evacuated every last Israeli soldier and civilian from the territory, still “occupies” it?