UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Francesca Albanese, October 27, 2022 (Photo: Screenshot)
Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) on Friday called for the firing of Francesca Albanese, the UN’s special rapporteur for Palestine, following Albanese’s most recent comments accusing Israel of “war crimes.”
“Special Rapporteur Albanese’s comments demonstrate yet again her unpardonable bias against the state of Israel and the Jewish people,” Wagner told The Algemeiner. “Albanese should be fired and the utterly unfair, one-sided Commission of Inquiry disbanded. The United Nations must eliminate this deep-seated anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias and commit itself to supporting the peaceful coexistence of Israel and a democratic, terrorism-free Palestine.”
Albanese on 3 May co-issued a press release through the UN’s human rights office in response to the death of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Khader Adnan in a hunger strike.
The press release quotes Albanese fellow UN rapporteur Tlaleng Mofokeng as saying that Israeli administrative detention is “tantamount to a war crime,” and called Adnan’s death “a tragic testament to Israel’s cruel and inhumane detention policy and practices.”
“We cannot separate Israel’s carceral policies from the colonial nature of its occupation, intended to control and subjugate all Palestinians in the territory Israel wants to control,” Albanese and her fellow expert said. “How many more lives will have to be lost, before an inch of justice can be delivered in the occupied Palestinian territory?”
The press release does not mention Adnan’s membership in PIJ. Adnan was indicted and arrested by an Israeli military court in February.
Albanese, who was appointed in May 2022, has repeatedly drawn criticism for anti-Israel bias and for comments that critics allege are antisemitic.
Albanese has routinely described Israel as an “apartheid regime” and in August 2022 asserted that indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza was part of a Palestinian “right to resist.” Before assuming office, Albanese had written in 2014 that the United States was “subjugated by the Jewish lobby.” Albanese has distanced herself from those remarks, saying that she would not repeat them and that “people make mistakes.”
“I am not antisemite [sic],” Albanese said in an April 2022 interview. “I never said Jews are Nazis, and I certainly never implied that I can’t carry out my responsibility objectively and professionally.”
Wagner in February co-led a letter with Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) that called for Albanese’s firing for her past comments and for describing Israel as a “colonial” “apartheid regime.”
“Ms. Albanese has repeatedly refused to condemn terrorist attacks against Israelis while continuing her condemnations of Israel,” the letter said. “Her inexcusable silence against terrorism targeting Israelis and her outrageous and prejudicial remarks clearly reflect the irredeemable bias of her mandate.”
Wagner told The Algemeiner on Friday that she further took issue with Albanese’s description of Israel as carrying out a “colonial” occupation.
“Israel has a fundamental right to exist,” she said. “The Jewish people are not colonizers—period. To suggest otherwise is both anti-Semitic and flagrantly wrong.”
Adnan was a senior member and spokesman for PIJ, who was described by the group in a statement following his death as “Commander Khader Adnan,” a “martyr,” and a “brave leader.” Adnan was most recently arrested on Feb. 23 and began an 87-day hunger strike that resulted in his death at the age of 45.
While PIJ mourned his death as a leader and martyr for the organization, some NGOs played down that aspect of his career.
“Khader Adnan, a baker by trade, had nine children with his wife Randa, who tirelessly campaigned for his release,” wrote Amnesty International in a statement after his death. “Since 2004 he had been arrested 13 times by Israeli authorities, due to his affiliation with the political wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement. While PIJ’s armed wing has carried out attacks on Israeli civilians, Khader Adnan himself was never charged with any involvement in acts of violence.”
Adnan had previously been recorded speaking publicly in support of PIJ, which is designated as a terrorist organization without distinction between its “political” and “armed” “wings” by the US, the European Union, and others, calling on attendees at a 2007 rally to give their lives in the struggle against Israel.
“Who among you is the next suicide bomber?” Adnan asked. “Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his own body parts blown all over?”
PIJ responded to Adnan’s death by firing rockets from the Gaza strip into Israel. Israeli military operations against PIJ in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip remain ongoing.