Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 16:59 UK

Israel to bar UN rights official

Israeli wounded by Palestinian rocket attack in Ashkelon
Israel wants Palestinian attacks on Israelis also to be investigated

Israel has said it will not allow a UN official appointed to investigate Israeli human rights abuses to enter the country or Palestinian territories.

It said it made the decision after Richard Falk told the BBC he stood by comments he made comparing Israel's actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis.

Mr Falk is due to take up his post with the UN Human Rights Council in May.

The foreign ministry said it would deny Mr Falk a visa at least until a council meeting in September.

Collective punishment

Foreign ministry spokesman Arye Mekel told the BBC that people in Israel were dismayed by Mr Falk's comments.

Mr Falk has been employed by the UN to investigate Israeli conduct in the occupied territories, but Israel wants his mandate changed to include Palestinian actions as well.

Mr Mekel said Israel would request the change of mandate at the September meeting, and "only then will we consider whether to let the rapporteur come here or not".

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Mr Falk said he stood by his comments, made last summer.

He said he drew the comparison between the treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi record of collective atrocity because of what he described as the massive Israeli punishment directed at the entire population of Gaza.

He understood that it was a provocative thing to say but he had made the comments, he said, to shake the American public from its torpor.

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