ZOA: Israel Is Right To Boycott U.N.’s Jenin Inquiry — Committee Members Have Records Of Anti-Israel Bias
April 24, 2002

One Compared Jewish Star
to Swastika

NEW YORK – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly supports the Israeli government’s reported decision to refrain from cooperating with the U.N. committee investigating the Jenin battle, in view of the committee members’ records of pro-Arab bias.

Israel Radio reported on April 23, 2002, that Israel will not cooperate with the committee because of the committee members’ bias; because of the fact that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan unilaterally changed the investigation’s terms of reference without consulting Israel; and because of “the conclusions of the UN team have been finalized in advance.”

Regarding the committee members’ bias, the ZOA points out:

Martti Ahtisaari: The chair of the committee, Martti Ahtisaari, president of Finland, is immediate past president of the European Union, a body that has been consistently unsympathetic to Israel. Arafat has said that Ahtisaari would be his choice as mediator for future talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. (Jerusalem Post, July 16, 1999)

On December 12, 1994, after receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, Arafat flew to Finland to thank Ahtisaari personally for Finland’s support of the Palestinian Arab cause. On November 14, 1999, Ahtisaari sent a message to Arafat which “stressed the EU’s support in general and Finland’s support in particular, for the Palestinian Authority” (Voice of Palestine Radio, Nov.14, 1999)

After visiting Syrian dictator Hafez Assad in 1999, Ahtisaari praised Assad as “focused,” claimed that Assad “made some unusual gestures towards Barak,” and said he was “impressed by the current Syrian positions”. (Israel Radio, Oct. 5, 1999; Jerusalem Post, Oct. 7, 1999)

At a press conference with Arafat in Gaza in 1999, Ahtisaari “criticized the continuing Israeli settlement activities.” (Voice of Palestine Radio, Oct. 5, 1999) He said nothing about the continuing Palestinian Arab settlement construction, which is proceeding at ten times the rate of Israeli construction.

Cornelio Sommaruga: The second committee member is Cornelio Sommaruga, former head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

It was reported in the Washington Post on March 24, 2000 that Sommaruga, then president of the ICRC, compared Israel’s Shield of David symbol to the Nazi swastika: “In a private meeting after [American Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy’s] speech [favoring admission of Israel’s Shield of David to the Red Cross], and in the presence of several witnesses, he said to Healy: “If we’re going to have the Shield of David, why would we not have to accept the swastika?” In a letter to the International Herald Tribune on April 4, 2000, Dr. Healy confirmed the accuracy of the Post’s account.

In May 1993, Mr. Sommaruga publicly alleged that Israeli behavior in Judea-Samaria-Gaza violates the Fourth Geneva Convention on Human Rights, because Israel had sealed off the territories in response to a wave of terrorist attacks. “I was badly impressed by the sufferings of the Palestinian people and the destructions of property” by the Israeli Army, Sommaruga said.

In April 1997, Mr. Sommaruga told the Associated Press that “construction of Israeli settlements in disputed territory violates the Geneva Convention.”

Sadako Ogata: The third committee member is Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On the eve of a visit to the Middle East by a delegation of Japanese officials last year, Ms. Ogata urged the delegation members to “seek self-restraint on the part of Israel over retaliatory action.” (Asian Political News, Dec. 24, 2001)

On October 6, 2000, Agence France Press (AFP) quoted Ms. Ogata as saying: “I was in the region earlier this year and I know under what kind of fragile and crowded conditions the Palestinian refugees are living.”

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