UNHRC headquarters 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US was the only country to vote against all six United Nations Human Rights
Council (UNHRC) resolutions on Israel, which were approved in Geneva this
Thursday and Friday.
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“We are deeply troubled to once again be presented
with a slate of resolutions replete with controversial elements and one-sided
references that fail to address the real challenges of the region,” US
Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told the council.
Israel needs to
stop settlement activity in the West Bank and improve movement and access for
the Palestinians, Donahoe said; but she added that progress in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be achieved through one-sided
resolutions, such as the ones presented to the council.
resolutions the UNHRC approved condemned Israeli settlement activity and human
rights violations in the “occupied” Palestinians territories and Golan Heights,
and called for the right of Palestinian selfdetermination.
dealt with a followup report on last May’s Gaza flotilla and Israel’s military
actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 and January
Donhoe’s comments were particularly harsh with respect to the
resolution on the Gaza fact-finding mission, which had the approval of only 27
out of 46 member states on the council. Three countries voted against it and 16
In contrast, the two resolutions on Israeli activity in the
West Bank and east Jerusalem had the approval of 45 members, with only the US
voting against them.
The resolution on the Gaza fact-finding mission
called for the UN Security Council to consider referring the issue of Israeli
activity in the Palestinian territories to the International Criminal
Donahoe said Israel has conducted credible investigations into its
military activity in Gaza two years ago, and there is no need to refer the
matter to the ICC.
“The Council is too often exploited as a platform from
which to single out Israel, which undermines its credibility,” Donahue said.
“The United States strongly encourages the Council to seek an alternative to
highly politicized resolutions and a permanent agenda item focused on one
“There are serious human rights issues to be addressed in Israel
and the Palestinian territories, but in the Human Rights Council, the human
rights record of all states should be addressed under a robust common
She added that ending the Israeli Palestinian conflict is the
best way to address the human rights issues in Israel and the Palestinian
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar,
said he told the council that the Gaza resolution comes at a time when Israel is
under attack by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
He noted that
five members of a Jewish family had been stabbed to death less than two weeks
ago in the Itamar settlement, and on Wednesday a bomb exploded in Jerusalem,
killing a British woman and wounding more than 50 people. At the same time, he
added, Palestinians in Gaza are launching rockets against Israel’s southern
While the council was focused on Israeli actions in the West Bank
and Gaza, Leshno- Yaar noted that governments in the region were killing their
own people in Yemen, Syria and Libya.
“Here in Geneva, this council
spends its time repeatedly condemning Israel. Some still wonder why the
reputation of this council is lower than the reputation of its infamous
predecessor,” he said.
The Palestinian representative to the UN in
Geneva, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that Israeli policy for decades has been reduced
to the phrase, “Shut up, there is a war going on.” In addressing the council
prior to its vote on Israeli activity in the West Bank, he said that Israel “is
trying to give the impression that it is targeted by a group of outlaws and
assassins. I believe the reality is quite different,” he said.
said the Palestinian Authority is willing to work with Israel to find the
Jerusalem bomber, and condemns the killing of innocent Israelis and
“We are not asking for a coalition that is now bombarding
Libya to bomb Israel,” he said. “We are simply asking to condemn the violence by
any party that is [acting in a way that is] counter to international
Overall, the council, which wrapped up its 16th
session on Friday, passed 40 resolutions.
Fourteen dealt with individual
countries – out of which six targeted Israel. The council also passed
resolutions in which it criticized human rights in Myanmar, North Korea and Cote
d’Ivoire. It created a position of a special investigator into human rights
issues in Iran.
The council also had resolutions that dealt with change
in Burundi, Tunisia, the Republic of Congo and the Republic of
According to the non-government group UN Watch, which monitors
the Human Rights Council’s activity, prior to its 16th session the council
approved 51 resolutions dealing with individual countries, 35 of which were