WASHINGTON – Senior U.S. officials sharply condemned the "outrageous" and "antisemitic" comments made by a United Nations expert heading an open-ended Commission of Inquiry on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Miloon Kothari, one of three human rights experts on the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry, told the Mondoweiss website that he "would go as far as to raise the question of why [Israel is] even a member of the United Nations." He added that "we are very disheartened by social media that is controlled largely by — whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs."
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U.S. Ambassador to the UNHRC Michèle Taylor said the U.S. was "outraged by recent antisemitic, anti-Israel comments made by a member of the Israel COI. These unacceptable remarks sadly exacerbate our deep concerns about the open-ended nature and overly broad scope of the COI and the HRC’s disproportionate & biased treatment of Israel."
Taylor reiterated the U.S. position on the COI, namely that it "firmly opposes the open-ended and vaguely defined nature of the Commission of Inquiry on the situation in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. This one-sided, biased approach to Israel does nothing to advance the prospects for peace."
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U.S. antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt said it was "outrageous that a [UN Human Rights Council] appointed human rights expert on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza repeated antisemitic tropes and questioned Israel’s legitimacy as a UN member. It is wholly unacceptable that such comments would come from an appointed member of a Commission of Inquiry."
Monodweiss said in response on Twitter: "Mr. Kothari described efforts by governments and other organizations to discredit the commission. Some groups, individuals, and media outlets have deliberately distorted his statements in a dishonest effort to accuse him of antisemitism."
Kothari "was not making the claim that “social media” is controlled by Jewish lobbying organizations," the tweet read.
Israel has previously accused Kothari of having "appallingly used terms such as 'ethnic cleansing' and 'massacre' in relation to Israeli actions."
The COI was established last year following the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and is the first to have an “ongoing” mandate from the UN rights body. The Biden administration has formally and publicly opposed the COI since its inception, and bipartisan U.S. lawmakers have continuously pushed for its defunding and shuttering.
AIPAC has made legislation focused on its abolition a key lobbying priority, while the U.S. has endeavored to cut its budget by 25 percent in lieu of failing to block its establishment.