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UN rights chief to step down over 'geo-political context'

Hussein is a harsh critic of Donald Trump [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 December, 2017

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UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, a harsh critic of US President Donald Trump, will step down next year
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, a harsh critic of US President Donald Trump, will step down next year, saying he will not seek another mandate "in the current geo-political context," according to an email sent to staff which was seen by AFP on Wednesday.

"I have decided not to seek a second four-year term. To do so, in the current geo-political context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice -- which is your voice," he wrote.

Trump shattered decades of unwavering U.S. neutrality on Jerusalem on Dec. 6 when he declared that the United States recognizes the divided holy city as Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there. Trump insisted that after repeated peace failures it was past time for a new approach, saying his decision was merely based on reality.

The status of Jerusalem has been a central issue in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Trump’s announcement was widely perceived as taking the side of Israel.

It countered an international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Trump’s announcement triggered denunciations and demonstrations around the world. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and other groups organized mass protests while its rival, the Gaza-based Islamic militant group Hamas, has called for a third violent uprising against Israel.

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