Samantha Power chides outgoing U.N. human rights envoy Richard Falk

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Richard Falk’s term as a U.N. human rights investigator “tarnished” the body’s reputation and the United States is looking forward to his imminent departure, U.S. envoy Samantha Power said.

Power said it was Falk’s incessant focus on Israel and the Palestinians that caused the blot on the U.N.’s record.

“His publication of bizarre and insulting material has tarnished the U.N.’s reputation and undermined the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council,” Power told Reuters in a statement on Monday, referring to the Geneva-based U.N. affiliate that appointed Falk to the position. “The United States welcomes Mr. Falk’s departure, which is long overdue.”

Reuters quoted U.N. officials in Geneva as saying that Falk would not stay beyond May 1, when his term lapses.

In her statement, Power cited Falk’s “relentless anti-Israeli bias” and “his noxious and outrageous perpetuation of 9/11 conspiracy theories.”

Among Falk’s many controversial statements, he accused Israel of “slouching toward nothing less than a Palestinian Holocaust”; called for more serious consideration of conspiracy theories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that posit U.S. government involvement; and called for the silencing of UN Watch, a group that is among his most dogged of critics.

Falk did not respond to a JTA request for comment posted on his blog.

Power in her statement to Reuters also decried the Human Rights Council’s bias.

“It is beyond absurd that the only country that has a standing place on the Human Rights Council’s agenda is not Syria, not North Korea and not Iran, but Israel,” she said.

A U.S. official confirmed the Reuters report and said the Obama administration would continue to defend Israel in the United Nations. The official noted Israel’s recent inclusion in a regional group and a human rights caucus at the United Nations as achievements of U.S. advocacy.

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