U.N. Envoy Resigns, Accuses Israel of Denying Access

GENEVA (Reuters) -

The U.N. investigator for human rights violations in Yehudah and Shomron resigned on Monday, saying that Israel had reneged on its pledge to grant him access to the Palestinian territories in Yehudah, Shomron and the Gaza Strip.

Makarim Wibisono, United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Yehudah and Shomron, said that his repeated oral and written requests for access had gone unanswered over 18 months.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Wibisono, who reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council, 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 that region, accusing the 47-member state forum of bias against Israel, a position backed by its main ally, the United States.

“The Israeli decision was the consequence of the distorted and biased mandate given to the rapporteur,” Emmanuel Nachshon, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said by email.

“Israeli human rights are violated too, every day, by Palestinians and until [it stops] ignoring this … the council will not be taken seriously as a body that respects human rights,” he said in a separate statement.

Wibisono, a former Indonesian diplomat who took up the U.N. post in June 2014, said in his first report to the council in March 2015 that Israel should investigate the killing of more than 1,500 Palestinian civilians, during the 2014 Gaza war, and make the findings public.

His resignation is effective on March 31, after his final report to the council.