JERUSALEM (AFP) – A top UN expert said he will urge the world body to leave the Quartet unless the four Middle East peace sponsors address Palestinian human rights, in an interview with the BBC released on Monday.
"In my most recent report to the General Assembly, which I will present later this month, I will suggest that the secretary general withdraw the UN from the Quartet, if the Quartet fails to have regard to the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories," John Dugard told the BBC.
Dugard is the UN human rights envoy for the Palestinian territories and a retired South African professor of international law.
The Quartet groups together the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States.
Dugard said the UN "does itself little good by remaining a member of the Quartet" and that the organization was "heavily influenced" by the US.
"Every time I visit the situation seems to have worsened," he told the BBC.
"This time I was very struck by the sense of hopelessness among the Palestinian people."
Dugard attributed this to "the crushing effect of human rights violations" and, as quoted by BBC, in particular Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
He called Israel’s response to security threats "very disproportionate."
In a report made public last February, Dugard drew parallels between the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and Apartheid .
Meanwhile, The European Union joined on Thursday a United Nations call for Israel to reconsider its move to declare the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" and appealed for it not to cut key services to the Hamas-run territory.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to declare the Gaza Strip a hostile territory, warning that any cutoff of vital services would violate international law and punish the already suffering civilian population