US slams Richard Falk's 'despicable and deeply offensive comments'

State Department says UN special rapporteur's claims that Israel is "genocidal" represent "a new low."

UN Richard Falk 311  (photo credit: Reuters)
UN Richard Falk 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
UN investigator Richard Falk. Photo: ReutersUN investigator Richard Falk. Photo: Reuters
The United States on Friday condemned United Nations investigator Richard Falk’s statement that Israel had genocidal intentions toward the Palestinians and called for his dismissal.
“We do not support his mandate or his work, which has been one-sided and biased, nor do we believe he should continue to serve as independent UN rapporteur, and we reiterate our calls for him to step down from this role,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.
Psaki spoke in response to a reporter question about a statement Falk made on December 15, during a brief appearance on Russia’s English television news program RT.
Falk was interviewed for only a few seconds as part of a larger program on Israel that included an argument that it was Israel, not Iran, which had a dangerous nuclear program.
Falk was asked about a past article he had written in which he said that Israel was “slouching toward nothing less than a Palestinian holocaust.”
Falk told RT, “When you target a group, an ethnic group and inflict this kind of punishment upon them, you are in effect nurturing a kind of criminal intention that is genocidal.”
Falk, who is a professor Emeritus of international law at Princeton University, was appointed in 2008 to a six-year position as the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.
Psaki told reporters in Washington on Friday that Falk had made “deplorable” statements in the past on a range of topics.
“The Administration has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms his despicable and deeply offensive comments, particularly his anti-Semitic blog postings, his endorsement of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and more recently, his deplorable statements with regard to the terrorist attacks in Boston,” said Psaki.
“We note that his term as Special Rapporteur ends in March 2014, and he cannot be reappointed to the role after that time,” Psaki said.
She explained that Falk could only be removed prior to the end of his term by a vote of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the “the vast majority of HRC members do not agree on his stepping down.”
Falk’s role at the UNHRC has not made the US reconsider its council membership, Psaki said.
“We will continue to press for him to step down, but we felt, as you noted, it was still important to be a member of the organization,” she said.
Last week, Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird called for Falk’s dismissal. The Geneva based non-governmental group UN Watch has also called for Falk’s removal in a letter it wrote both to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US ambassador to the UN in New York Samantha Powers.