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UN official in Palestinian territories quits over lack of Israeli cooperation

A diplomat responsible for monitoring human rights in the Palestinian territories has quit, citing Israeli interference as the reason. Israel has long had fraught relations with the UN Human Rights Council.

Makarim Wibisono, an Indonesian diplomat and the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said on Monday he was resigning because Israel had refused to grant him access to the areas he was supposed to monitor.

"I took up this mandate with the understanding that Israel would grant me access, as an impartial and objective observer," Wibisono said. "Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the wary."

Unfulfilled promises

Wibisono took up the mandate in June 2014. According to a statement released by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR), "throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory."

The UN official said he had put in a request to Israel in October to have access to the territories. When he failed to receive a response by the end of the year, he decided to hand in his resignation, saying his mandate could not be fulfilled.

"I reluctantly wish to pass the baton to a successor," he said. "It is my sincere hope that whoever succeeds me will manage to resolve the current impasse."

Israel's foreign ministry has criticized Wibisono's resignation, saying it was reflective of the biased mandate of the UNHCR, with which the country has had fraught relations. According to DPA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman said that as long as UNHCR's treatment of Israel proved to be biased, the country's treatment of the council "will be accordingly."

blc/msh (dpa, AFP)

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