UN Human Rights Chief Not Welcome if She Meets Sharon, Say Palestinians
Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority said Wednesday the UN's top human rights official Mary Robinson would not be welcome in Palestinian territories if she went ahead with reported plans to meet Israeli right-wing leaders.
The authority claimed in a statement that Robinson planned to meet the leader of the right-wing Likud party, Ariel Sharon, as well as Jerusalem's right-wing mayor Ehud Olmert during a visit to the Middle East starting Wednesday.
Her office in Geneva said Tuesday that Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was hoping to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak as well as with Arafat, but made no mention of Sharon or Olmert.
Palestinians blame Sharon for sparking six weeks of deadly violence in the occupied territories with a provocative visit on September 28 to a Jerusalem site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
The Palestinian Authority said it viewed any meetings she might hold with Sharon and Olmert as a violation of a UN Human Rights Commission resolution.
In this case, it said, the Palestinian Authority "does not welcome any meeting with her during her visit to our territory."
As Arafat left Wednesday for Egypt, Britain and the United States, it was not clear who on the Palestinian side she would meet should such a meeting go ahead.
A special session of the UN Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva, voted last month to set up an inquiry into alleged human rights violations by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli government has already said it does not want an inquiry.
"Mrs. Robinson said that she plans to convey to the parties the importance of developing a culture of human rights and tolerance which, she believes, is the key to a peaceful and stable future in the region," her spokesman, Jose-Luis Diaz said Tuesday.
Diaz said Robinson was also expected to meet King Abdullah of Jordan and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt during her Middle East trip.
She will submit an account of her visit to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission in spring -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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