Israeli media is reporting that on November 28, 2022, Italian lawyer Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, participated in a Gaza conference with several leaders of Palestinian terrorist groups. According to an article by the Jerusalem Post, Albanese used the occasion to express her support for Palestinian “resistance” to Israeli occupation:
December 4, 2022 Albanese addressed a Hamas conference in Gaza last Monday, in which she said, “You have a right to resist this occupation.… Israel says ‘resistance equals terrorism,’ but an occupation requires violence and generates violence.”
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The event, titled “16 Years of Siege on Gaza: Impacts and Prospects,” aimed to “shed light on the repercussions of the siege on Gaza” and was organized by the Council on International Relations-Palestine, a Palestine advocacy group chaired by former Hamas Youth and Sports Minister Basem Naim. Participants included Naim and several other leading members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, including:
- Ghazi Hamad, former Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister
- Abd al-Latif al-Qanou, Hamas spokesperson
- Ahmad al-Mudallal, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader
- Khadr Habib, PIJ leader in Gaza
At the conference, Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said that the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip was a “crime against humanity against the Palestinian people” and a “disgrace” to the international community, which he accused of adopting double standards in global issues.
According to additional reporting by the Jerusalem Post, Albanese’s remarks at the conference led the Israeli government to ban her from entering and traveling through the West Bank, as Israel has done for her predecessors, Michael Lynk and Richard Falk. Palestinian media have criticized the ban.
From the inception of her appointment as UN Special Rapporteur, Israel has argued that Albanese is unfit to serve in the role by virtue of her pre-existing views on the conflict with the Palestinians. According to an April 2012 Israeli media report:
Israel on Friday formally sounded its objection to the recent appointment of an Italian lawyer to head the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended investigation into Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, arguing that she harbors significant bias against the Jewish state. Merav Marks, legal adviser for the Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva, said during the closing session of the Human Rights Council that Francesca Albanese was “unfit” to take the role of Special Rapporteur on Palestine. “The newly appointed special rapporteur’s opinion expressed in numerous articles, events and media outlets endlessly voicing anti-Israel libel show that she is unfit to take up this role,” said Marks. “In fact, the special rapporteur has even expressed concerns about her own personal views, which she said could compromise her objectivity when addressing the situation,” she said, adding that Israel therefore objected “in the strongest terms” to the appointment of Albanese to the “already one-sided mandate dedicated to delegitimizing and demonizing Israel.”
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In 2015, Albanese, whose husband served as an economic advisor to the Ministry of National Economy of the State of Palestine in Ramallah, shared a post celebrating Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Leila Khaled as a “resistance icon,” writing “Go Leila go!” Khaled was known for her role in a series of plane hijackings during 1969 and 1970. The PFLP has been a US-designated terrorist organization since 1997.
In a 2015 Facebook post, Albanese used a contextless photo to equate the Nazi treatment of Jews with the treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers.
More recently, Albanese controversially used the Nazi Holocaust to highlight the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, saying in a video translated by a human rights NGO:
Just as tragic, terrible, unspeakable, is the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in the [Holocaust], so for the Palestinians, the Nakba represents the crumbling of the connective tissue of a people.
The “Nakba” is an Arabic term for the expulsion of Arab Palestinians from the former British Mandate of Palestine after 1947.
In an October 2022 UN report, Albanese strongly condemned Israel’s “apartheid practices” in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying its actions against Palestinians amounted to persecution.
In May 2022, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that Albanese’s predecessor Michael Lynk had participated in a virtual speaking event hosted by the Palestinian Return Centre, a UK-based Palestine advocacy group close to Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB).
The Hamas charter says it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine,” and a Hamas journalist has acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons. Hamas is known to be supported financially and politically by the GMB.