Israeli Home Front Command soldiers talk in the southern city of Ashdod on May 12, 2023. Photo: AFP
Francesca Albanese, an Italian lawyer and human rights academic, said “Israel is a colonial power maintaining the occupation in order to get as much land as possible for Jewish-only people. And this is what leads to the numerous violations of international law.”
“For me, apartheid is a symptom and a consequence of the territorial ambitions Israel has for the land of what remains of an encircled Palestine … The cause is the colonies”, she further said according to the British daily.
Albanese criticized the UK and other Western states, calling on them to do more to support the two-state solution. "If states are truly committed to the two-state solution, as the UK claims to be, they must ensure that Israel's actions are in line with the possibility of having a Palestinian state, which means sovereignty from a political, economic, cultural point of view. The right to self-determination should be the starting point.”
The UN official, who was appointment last year, said “a tragic characteristic” of western engagement in the Middle East was its failure to uphold law without double standards, particularly the UK, which was a colonial power in Palestine.
She emphasized that western countries should refrain from simply commenting on occasional violations or escalations of violence, as the violence in the occupied Palestinian territory is cyclical and not simply a random occurrence. Instead, she urged them to take action and ensure that Israel complies with international law in order to address the root causes of the ongoing conflict.
Albanese has faced calls for resignation from Israeli government ministers, including Amichai Chikli, who accused her of promoting "hatred and antisemitism." In response, Albanese's supporters have called on the senior UN officials who appointed her to do more to defend her. While she has described the attacks as "intimidation, no more, no less," she believes they will be as effective as "dogs barking at airplanes."
The UN rapporteur plans to visit the Palestinian embassy in London to observe Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians from 1947-1949. During her visit, she intends to meet with MPs, Jewish progressive groups, and consult with academics.
This year, the UN is officially recognizing Nakba Day for the first time in its history.