UN food expert draws Israel's ire

Israel has told the United Nations to sack its expert on starvation after a report found that 22% of Palestinian children in the occupied territories are malnourished.

    Just under half of Palestinian families depend on food aid

    Itzhak Levanon, Tel Aviv's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said on Monday that Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler had exceeded his responsibilities by calling for political measures to be taken against Israel.

    "He attacks Israel on every occasion and will start again at the UN General Assembly in two days' time. It's not the first time," Levanon said.

    "We have asked the Commission on Human Rights to consider the possibility of ending his mandate."

    Malnourished children

    A UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ziegler's latest report to be presented on Thursday shows that nearly a quarter of Palestinian children are malnourished and nearly half are dependent on food aid.

    "Grave violations of the right to food have been recorded; they are clear"

    Jean Ziegler,
    UN special rapporteur

    "Grave violations of the right to food have been recorded; they are clear," Ziegler said on Tuesday, adding there must be political pressure to affect a change.

    He added that the European Union had one of the only means of pressure available to stop alleged violations of the Palestinians' right to food in the form of its association agreement with Israel. 
      
    EU political pressure

    The agreement includes a clause which lays out respect for human rights as "an essential element" of the trade agreement. Ziegler said he had written to outgoing European Commission president Romano Prodi asking for the application of the clause.
      
    Levanon said the UN rights expert had abused his mandate by calling on the EU to take measures against a sovereign state.
      
    Israel has already called for the Swiss sociologist, who was appointed to the UN post in 2000, to be dismissed after he released a report on the situation in the occupied territories last year which was highly critical of the Israeli authorities.
      
    The 53-member states of the UN Commission on Human Rights hold their annual assembly every spring.

    SOURCE: AFP


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