A Jordanian prince educated in Britain and once praised by Israeli diplomats as a “ray of light” has been asked to compile a “blacklist” of all companies connected to Israeli settlements.
Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was asked to create the database by the UN Human Rights Council, which concluded its 31st session last week.
The prince, a former board member of the Auschwitz Institute of Peace and Reconciliation, was educated first at Reed’s School in Surrey, before returning for a post-doctorate at Cambridge.
He was elected to the UN’s chief human rights role in 2014, eight years after being described by Dan Gillerman, Israel’s then-ambassador to the UN, as a “ray of light” who he hoped “would shine more frequently in the future”.
Zeid has since taken a tough line on Israel, criticising the state’s “persistent discrimination and impunity” and “wide range of daily human rights infringements that are generated by military occupation, illegal settlements, excessive use of force, home demolitions, and the Wall”.
The UK is a current member of the UNHRC but abstained from voting on the resolution, which criticised “Israel’s belligerent occupation”.
At the same session, a Canadian academic denounced as “anti-Israel” was appointed to the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, after the incumbent resigned citing lack of co-operation.
Professor Michael Lynk’s appointment was this week described as “dangerous” by Richard Verber, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies, who expressed “disquiet” to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Verber said: “Lynk has previously said he hopes to isolate Israel and has compared construction by the State of Israel to the ‘transfer by the Nazis of German-speaking peoples into newly conquered lands during the Second World War’ – an unacceptable equivalency whatever one’s position.”
He added: “We call on you to openly oppose and speak out against this dangerous appointment.”