ADL Slams UN Body for Making Tutu Head of Beit Hanun Mission

Foxman: Tutu has already publicly expressed his anti-Israel views, opinions on what happened in Beit Hanun.

The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday blasted the United Nations Human Rights Council for appointing Desmond Tutu as head of its fact-finding mission to the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun.

The mission is charged with investigating a botched Israel Defense Forces shelling in Beit Hanun which killed 19 Palestinian civilians.

"The appointment of Desmond Tutu as head of the fact-finding mission to Beit Hanun is an extension of the anti-Israel kangaroo court tactics used by the UN Human Rights Council," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman.

"No fact-finding mission can produce balanced and trustworthy results if its leader professes to know all the answers beforehand.

"Tutu has already publicly expressed his anti-Israel views and his opinions regarding what happened in Beit Hanun, and combined with the one-sided anti-Israel mandate provided by the resolution, the results of the mission are all-but preordained," he added.

The council, which has censured only Israel in its six-month existence, recently passed a resolution calling for a mission to "assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors, and make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against further Israeli assaults."

Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has spoken out against Israel in the past and publicly denounced the Beit Hanun operation.

"It is an outrage that cries out to heaven and we must condemn it unequivocally as we do the atrocities committed by suicide bombers against Israeli civilians," Tutu said.

Tutu said Thursday he was "honored" that the United Nations had asked him to lead a fact-finding mission. "I hope that our mission will advance the cause of peace and stability for Palestinian and Israeli alike, and contribute to halt the awful carnage and bloodletting," he said.

"I believe fervently that it is possible for Arab and Jew to live amicably together," he added.

Foxman has condemned the UN Human Rights Council - an effort to reform and replace the UN Commission on Human Rights - an "overwhelming failure." The organization has been widely criticized for concentrating its efforts on condemnations of Israel, and Foxman branded its replacement a political tool of its Arab and Muslim majority.

The ADL said the new UN Human Rights Council has "ignored the world's worst human rights atrocities and instead has pursued Israel for political gain."

The 47-member council, which earlier this year replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission, has been severely criticized by some countries, including the United States, for moving four times to condemn Israel but not taking up human rights violations in Myanmar, North Korea or Sudan.

The Council has come under similar criticism from outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"From the day it opened for business, the UN Human Rights Council has never operated with any moral authority," Foxman said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The Council has failed in its most fundamental purpose: to monitor human rights abuses in all parts of the world. Instead, it has become a political tool wielded by its Arab and Muslim members who have the power of an automatic majority. The Council has ignored the world's worst human rights atrocities and instead has pursued Israel for political gain."

Earlier this month, the Council condemned an IDF artillery attack that killed 20 civilians in the northern Gaza Strip and ordered an on-site investigation by UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour.

The organization made no reference to Palestinian Qassam attacks. But when Arbour visited the area last week, she and her party were nearly hit by a Qassam that slammed into the Negev town of Sderot, in a salvo that killed a local factory worker.

"Closing in on six months since its first meeting, the Council has held one regular session and three special sessions and has yet to address a single state besides Israel," the ADL said in the statement. "The Council passed two resolutions yesterday condemning Israel while ignoring other more pressing problems around the world."