10/15/2007, 00.00
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For UN envoy, Quartet not protecting Palestinians

John Dugard, UN envoy for the past seven years, said he will ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pull UN out of Mideast Quartet if it does not better protect human rights in the Palestinian Territories.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began the second day of her Mideast mission with a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Her goal is to find the bases to guarantee success to next month’s peace conference in Annapolis (US). In the meantime in London, United Nations human rights envoy for the Palestinian Territories John Dugard said that should the human rights of Palestinians continue to be ignored, the UN should quit the Mideast Quartet.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Dugard said that in “my most recent report to the General Assembly, which I will present later this month, I will suggest that the secretary general withdraw the UN from the Quartet, if the Quartet fails to have regard to the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories.”

Every time I visit, the situation seems to have worsened,” he said. “This time, I was very struck by the sense of hopelessness among the Palestinian people.”

Mr Dugard attributed this to “the crushing effect of human rights violations,” and in particular Israeli restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement.

He said that although Israel did have a threat to its security, “its response is very disproportionate.”

In his opinion some checkpoints in the West Bank are designed to break it up “into a number of cantons and make the life of Palestinians as miserable as possible.”

The retired South African professor of international law said the Quartet’s response was weak because it was “heavily influenced” by the US.

The Quartet failed to engage properly on human rights, he said, and was also failing to deal with the current rift between the rival Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas.

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