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Photo by: Twitter screenshot
No sign UN will fire worker over incendiary tweet
By HERB KEINON
20/03/2012
UN coming under counter-pressure from Palestinian, Arab circles not to “succumb to Israeli pressure” and fired worker.
 
The Foreign Ministry called in two senior UN officials Monday to protest an incendiary photo tweeted by a UN agency employee, even as the agency showed no indication it would fire the worker.

Western diplomatic sources said the UN was coming under counter-pressure from Palestinian and Arab circles not to “succumb to Israeli pressure” and fire Kuhlood Badawi, a field officer for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Badawi posted a link last week during the violence in the South of 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, was published in 2006 by Reuters and was of a Palestinian girl who died in a accident unrelated to Israel.

On Sunday, she posted a response to the incident on Twitter that read, “Correction: I tweeted the photo believing it was from the last round of violence & it turned out to be from 2006 This is my personal account.”

Badawi was born in Nazareth, and studied at Haifa University where she was active in the Arab Student’s Committee. An entry on the American Friends Service Committee website described her as a “Palestinian citizen of Israel who advocates for Palestinian civil rights and organizes activities that bring together the Palestinian and Jewish communities in order to bring about a better future and real peace in Israel/Palestine.”

According to Israeli sources, the two UN officials who met with Foreign Ministry officials – Ramesh Rajasingham, the head of the OCHA office in Jerusalem, and Max Gaylard, the humanitarian coordinator – said that the tweet did not reflect UN policy.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor posted the following on his Facebook page: “Not only does a UN official in the Territories post a picture with a false description that demonizes Israel through a furious fabrication of facts, but her superior, Max Gaylard (Humanitarian Coordinator, mind you..) gives her full backing, and their New York HQ dismisses the outrage as a private opinion, unrelated to the UN...The UN? Whatever.”

Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor expressed outrage at Badawi’s conduct and called for her dismissal on Wednesday in a letter to Valerie Amos, the under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs.

Amos’s reply to Prosor said nothing of dismissing Badawi, but did call Badawi’s tweet “regrettable.” She stressed that the tweet was made on Badawi’s personal account, and said it “in no way reflects the views of OCHA, nor has it been sanctioned by OCHA.”

“OCHA works to ensure its neutrality and impartiality in all its work and it is important that private actions of our staff do not undermine these principles in the countries in which we work,” Amos wrote.

This is not the first time Badawi, as a UN employee, engaged in blatant political activities. In 2008, she took part in a protest on behalf of Gaza and was seen in a video leading protesters in the chant: “Defense Minister Barak, how many kids have you killed up to today?”
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