Investigator for Territories to Resign from U.N. Position

The investigator for the United Nations who reports on alleged human rights abuses in Israel’s administered territories announced his resignation, saying support for the peace process outweighed his mandate.

In address to the 53-member U.N. Human Rights Commission and in a controversial report that he prepared as part of his duties, Rene Felber said last week that his position as special investigator should be eliminated. He has held the post for two years.

Felber, a former Swiss foreign minister and president, said he stood firmly behind his assessment of the territories. The report accused Israel of ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners and of abusing scarce water resources.

But he later told reporters: “I am afraid the peace process is crumbling and the Israeli government will fall. It is the last moment. The only plausible solution to me is to choose a political alternative and renounce my mandate.”

Felber urged that nations support the peace process leading to a withdrawal of Israeli forces and full autonomy in the territories. “Otherwise,” he added, “there will undoubtedly be an explosion.”

A former president of the commission called Felber irresponsible, adding the because sanctions could not be imposed, the world had to be alerted to Israel’s alleged violations.

Geraidine Ferraro, head of the U.S. Human Rights delegation here and a former New York Democratic congresswoman, backed Felber’s decision to end his mandate.

Israeli diplomats also supported his move.

Felber still has to submit a formal resignation to the commission.

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