Khulood Badawi, a UN worker who sent an incendiary anti- Israel tweet last year, is no longer working for the agency – and that is all Israel really needs to know, Valerie Amos, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, intimated in a recent letter.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, wrote Amos a letter on February 20 in his signature sarcastic style, asking what had happened to the organization’s inquiry into the Badawi affair.
Last March, during a round of violence in the South, Badawi, a field officer for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), posted a link to a young girl covered in blood being carried by her father, along with the tweet: “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel.. Another father carrying his child to a Grave in #Gaza....”
The picture, it emerged, had been published in 2006 by Reuters and was of a Palestinian child who died in an accident unrelated to Israel.
Israel demanded that she be fired, while there was counter-pressure on the organization from Palestinian and Arab circles not to “succumb to Israeli pressure.”
The affair further tainted OCHA’s standing with Israeli diplomatic officials, who have long viewed it as unabashedly anti-Israel.
In his letter last month, Prosor wrote that on March 13, 2012, he had written to Amos demanding Badawi’s firing, only to be told that OCHA had “begun an inquiry” into her actions.
“Since then l have sent several letters – on 20 March, 11 June, and 14 August – requesting information about the status of this investigation. One did not need the detective skills of Agatha Christie to realize that something is amiss here. A case like Ms. Badawi’s does not exactly require the assistance of an NYPD forensics team,” he wrote.
“A year has passed since my initial complaint,” Prosor continued, “and my government still has yet to receive any substantive answers from USG Amos’s office. OCHA’s constant evasiveness in responding to my letters has forced me to question the seriousness with which they undertook Ms.
Badawi’s inquiry. OCHA’s behavior casts doubt on its ability to conduct an honest, professional, and transparent investigation.”
Amos’s response came a week later. In her letter she reiterated what she wrote soon after the affair first broke, that Badawi’s personal Twitter account did not reflect OCHA’s views.
“I remain concerned about the negative impact her actions have had on the relationship between OCHA and the Government of Israel,” she wrote.
Amos said that an official inquiry was conducted by the UN Development Program’s audit and investigations office.
She said that due process was ensured for everyone involved, and that the investigation was concluded.
But, she added, since this is “an internal personnel issue, the United Nations is bound by rules of confidentiality and cannot disclose the results of the investigation or other related information regarding Ms. Badawi, who is no longer a UN staff member.”
She closed by saying that the UN “remains committed to ensuring and safeguarding the neutrality and impartiality of the Organization.”