15 December 2008 – United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto today called media stories that he tried to prevent Israel’s representative from speaking on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “a malicious and absolute lie.”
At the same time he said Israel’s detention and denial of entry of the independent UN human rights expert for the occupied Palestinian territory “reflects a dangerous decision by individual countries to rebuff UN mandates and UN-appointed mandate holders.”
Further, Mr. D’Escoto said very serious threats have appeared on the Internet against his life and the matter is being looked into by the pertinent authorities.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, he said the two actions concerning Israel are “not helpful or conducive for the climate of international harmony that he is trying to promote.”
The story that he had tried to prevent Israel’s representative from speaking “could best be characterized as ‘slander’ and in any court of law this is a criminal act,” the statement said.
“Information from the media attributes senior diplomatic officials in the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations as the source for this irresponsible accusation,” it added, noting that Mr. D’Escoto will meet Israel’s Ambassador to the UN later today to discuss the issues.
The statement said UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk was denied entry to Israel when he arrived at Tel Aviv airport with staff members from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on an official visit to carry out his mandate.
“He was attempting to carry out the obligations of his UN mandate, investigating the human rights violations affecting the protected civilian population of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the territories occupied by Israel since 1967,” it added. “Most urgently he intended to investigate the rising humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip resulting from the siege of Gaza’s 1.5 million population imposed by the occupying power.”
Other than two brief urgent telephone messages to the United States, Mr. Falk was held almost incommunicado for at least 30 hours and was now believed to have been put on a flight back to the US.