Bill Richardson: UN Must Probe Attacks on Christians in Iraq

Image: Bill Richardson: UN Must Probe Attacks on Christians in Iraq Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. (AFP/Stringer/Getty Images)

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 04:01 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The State Department and the U.N. Human Rights Commission must become involved in stopping the escalating slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, according to Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico.

Richardson told Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Thursday that the U.N. should start by probing the bloody persecution of Christians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

"I'd like the U.N, Human Rights Council to look into that instead of making statements just about Israel in this recent escalation,'' said Richardson, who was also former Ambassador to the U.N. and Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton.

"We need to step up these efforts. We have a human rights component at the State Department. I'd like to see a lot more there, there's no question about it.''

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In the latest move against Christians, the Islamic militant group ISIS threatened Iraqi Christians with death by "the sword" unless they accept Islam or pay a protection fee, triggering a panicked exodus from Mosul.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, now controls a huge swath of Syria and Iraq, and read its ultimatum at mosques in Iraq's second-largest city, calling on Christians to convert, pay up or face death.

Richardson, a Democrat, said he agreed with the FAA's ban earlier this week on flights to Tel-Aviv, following Hamas rockets falling near Ben Gurion International Airport.

He said he does not believe like some that the ban was a political move and a subtle slap by the U.S. government at Israel.

"They were bombing one mile away from the Ben Gurion Airport. The FAA has to be concerned about safety. I'm glad that they took the ban off, [but] I don't think it was a political move,'' he said.

"I think the United States is very strongly committed to Israel. We have done everything we can in terms of diplomacy to recognize Israel's right to defend itself.

"There's concerns over some of the civilian targets, but at the same time Israel has responded to ceasefire requests three times by the Egyptians.''

Richardson said he was aware of the deafening silence from the Arab League and Arab neighbors of Israel with regard to the fight with Hamas in Gaza.

"There is no question there's been a deafening silence. That always happens when a flare up like this occurs. What I see happening is some constructive players taking a more active role,'' Richardson said.

"For instance, the security general of the U.N., although I don't agree with a lot of the human rights reports on Israel that have been made, it's good that he's in there with some kind of commitment towards a cease fire.

"The European Union is there. France's foreign minister is there…. I see the possibility of a cease fire not right away, but in the next few days.''

Richardson praised the work of Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Secretary Kerry knows the region and he's invested a lot in that Israeli/Palestinian peace effort,'' he said.

"I know it didn't work, but personal relationships are important and he has those there. Hopefully, some glimmer of hope will come in the next few days.''

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