Report: Netanyahu told ministers he urged Trump to quit UN rights body

"During the trip I raised the question of whether the United States should remain in the [UN] Human Rights Council," PM reportedly said of his recent trip to Washington.

March 2, 2017 11:40
2 minute read.
President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news.

President Donald Trump (R) greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint news conference at the White House. . (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Amid reports that the Trump administration is considering pulling the US out of the UN Human Rights Council, Army Radio on Thursday reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had been the one to urge the US president to do so.

Upon the premier's return this week from his recent string of high-profile diplomatic trips abroad, Netanyahu allegedly told members of his Likud party that he had recommended the US end its participation in the UN body that has been accused of holding a bias against Israel, according to the report.

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"During the trip I raised the question of whether the United States should remain in the [UN] Human Rights Council," the radio station quoted Netanyahu as saying of his mid-February visit to Washington to meet Trump and his team.

The prime minister's statement was reportedly met with scrutiny by Likud MK Anat Berko, who questioned whether it would be more beneficial for the US to remain in the UN body and retain the power to impact votes taken there.

Netanyahu reportedly responded saying, "It's better to leave! These organization must be de-legitimized."

Meanwhile on Thursday, sources in Yesh Atid told The Jerusalem Post  that its party head Yair Lapid was not sure that Netanyahu had actually raised the issue with Trump in Washington.

According to the sources, Lapid had sent a letter regarding the matter to the prime minister this week and the centrist party's leader now suspects that Netanyahu had remarked upon it to his faction, but did not tell Trump to take action while in DC.

At present the US is one of 47 UN member states that hold seats on the council and have the ability to vote. US president George W. Bush had boycotted the council over its treatment of Israel, while US president Barack Obama believed US engagement would help the council.

Since the council’s inception in 2006, it has issued more condemnations against Israel than against any other country.

On Wednesday, a US envoy issue a veiled warning indicating that her country may consider pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council unless it halts its continued obsession with Israel.
Erin Barclay says US seeks end to UN human rights council's 'obsession' with Israel on March 1, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)

The statement came at the end of a brief speech US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay made at the opening segment of the council’s 34th session in Geneva, in which she spoke strongly in defense of Israel.

“For this council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions,” she said. “As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the council’s actions with an eye to reform, to more fully achieve the council’s missions to protect and promote human rights.”

Barclay said such reform would build “greater credibility" for the UNHRC.

“The US also remains deeply troubled by the council’s consistent, unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel,” she said.

Barclay spoke just two days after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the council that its ability to protect Palestinian human rights is a test of the body’s credibility.

Gil Hoffman and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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