Francesca Albanese delivering a speech at the UN about Palestine on 18 November 2018. (Photo Credit: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Israeli news website Yedioth Ahronot revealed on 1 December Tel Aviv’s plan to bar the entry of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) representative, Francesca Albanese, for her outspoken support of Palestine’s right to exist.
Albanese, an Italian lawyer whose official title is “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967,” is tasked with reporting on Israeli abuses in occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Ahead of her planned visit to occupied Palestine in December, Albanese was informed of delays in her visa process, raising concerns about the possibility of Israel blocking her entry.
In a tweet on 29 November, she said Israeli officials promised to facilitate her entry to the West Bank and Jerusalem. Nonetheless, days later, Albanese accused them of “manipulation,” as they had backtracked from their statement.
I may be naïve, but I trust humanity.
So I trusted Israeli authorities. They told they would issue a permit.I had no reason to doubt.
SR carry country visits. Even the Taliabans allowed SR @richardben to visit the country, multiple times.
No need to lie, distort, manipulate https://t.co/g0gQDTzWVH
— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) December 1, 2022
According to Israeli media, Albanese is “guilty” of making several “anti-Israel remarks,” including several “addressed to Hamas and [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad officials who participated in a conference in Gaza last week.”
Albanese’s speech at the conference was broadcast live on local Arabic media, as she told an audience of resistance soldiers of their “their right to resist this occupation.”
Additionally, she hinted at her rejection of a two-state proposition as a suitable solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza are what’s left of historic Palestine. This statement is not new, but it will help the international community feel uncomfortable with the two-state solution,” Albanese said.
Earlier in April, Israel officially sent a letter of protest to the UNHRC, taking aim at Albanese’s appointment and accusing her of being unfit for the position.
This was reiterated by the legal adviser of the Israeli mission to the UN, Merav Marks, who argued against her and accused her of “harboring significant bias against the Jewish state.”
“Israel condemns Albanese’s appointment in the strongest terms. This is already a one-sided mandate dedicated to delegitimizing and demonizing Israel,” Marks decried at the time.
Israel has long targeted UN officials and human rights groups for their reporting on human rights abuses in the occupied territories, and have closed countless EU and US-funded NGOs that supported refugees.
On 7 May 2018, Israel revoked the permit of US-born Human Rights Watch (HRW) director in Israel and Palestine, Omar Shakir, and forced him to leave within two weeks.
“This is not about Shakir, but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record,” stated Iain Levine, deputy executive director at HRW.
In October 2021, Israel designated half a dozen western-funded local Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations, cutting the support system of thousands of impoverished West Bank refugees.
More notably, on 14 November, it was revealed that Israeli watchdog NGOs at the UN targeted the livelihood of dozens of employees from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for “the crime of supporting the Palestinian cause.”