Swiss blasted for anti-Israel UN vote

AJC leaders: Switzerland lobbied for support of Arab draft that made no mention of yeshiva attack.

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
March 10, 2008 09:23
2 minute read.
ajc david harris looks forward 298

ajc david harris 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

Switzerland has "joined forces with countries that have little regard for human rights" in its vote in support of a UN Human Rights Council resolution on Thursday condemning Israel over the escalating violence in Gaza, according to the American Jewish Committee. In a letter to Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on Sunday, the AJC blasted the move as "detrimental" to "efforts to rectify the situation in the Human Rights Council and even more importantly, to promote peace in the Middle East." "Most appallingly, the resolution fails to even mention the terror attack perpetrated last week by a Palestinian gunman against a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, in which eight students were murdered, although this heinous crime was committed on the same day that the Human Rights Council adopted its resolution," reads the letter, signed by AJC Director David Harris and President Richard Sideman. The resolution condemning the situation in Gaza was adopted by a vote of 33 to one, with 16 abstentions. Canada was the only state to vote against the resolution, which made no mention of terrorism or Hamas. All Western states abstained on the vote except Switzerland. According to the AJC, "by some accounts, the Swiss delegation actively lobbied the EU and other countries to support the Arab-sponsored draft in exchange for minor amendments." "The idea that reasonable countries rooted in democratic values can't distinguish between the arsonist and the fireman, the terrorist and the peace-seeker, despotic Hamas and democratic Israel is dismaying," Harris told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Israel was having a difficult time explaining its position in Europe because "the Europeans are so far removed in recent years from immediate conflict situations or threats to their borders," Harris added. "In the Middle East, either you beat the bully or you get eaten by the bully. Maybe if Switzerland had Hamas on its borders, it would have a different perspective." A statement forwarded from the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern relates that the Swiss vote in favor of the resolution "above all expresses our profound preoccupation with the steady deterioration of the situation in Gaza and in the South of Israel. It also takes into account the efforts taken in order to improve the text submitted to us." Quoting the foreign minister, the statement reads, "this yes vote, however, does not signify that my delegation declares itself fully satisfied with the text at issue. We would have liked the expression 'military attacks' to be substituted with the more adequate 'military operations.' Also, we would have preferred that the rocket launches of the Palestinians on the Israeli civilian population would have been condemned, as all violations of international humanitarian law should be, regardless of wherever they come from and whoever the perpetrator." "With the support of some delegations," the statement concludes, "Switzerland has engaged in searching for a common ground and for a convergence of the positions with a view to adopt the draft in consensus. This has not been possible, in spite of concessions made here and there. This is to be regretted. It seems to us however that a dynamism [sic] has been instilled in the spirit of dialogue that must guide our work, and I do not give up the hope that one day the [UN Human Rights] Council will be able to speak with one voice even on a matter as delicate as the situation in Gaza."


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