Crammed in among the topics for discussion at this week’s World Health
Organization annual assembly – between incommunicable diseases, pandemics,
universal health coverage and the eradication of dracunculiasis – is the
following: “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including
east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian
Golan” is the only sliver on the planet to gain a slot on the annual meeting in
Geneva’s provisional agenda.
Discussion of the topic is expected to be
accompanied this year – as always – by a resolution blasting Israel for poor
health conditions in the territories.
The Foreign Ministry, as always,
has directed its representatives abroad to lobby their host governments to vote
against the motion.
One Foreign Ministry official, asked if an
anti-Israel resolution does not contravene reported Palestinian agreements to
refrain from unilateral action in international forums against Israel while US
Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to get the two sides to the negotiating
table, said this was an annual ritual, and was not an effort to upgrade the
Palestinian representation in the organization.
commitment undertaken to help create a better environment for Kerry, the
official said, only had to do with bids for upgrades in UN organizations, such
as when the Palestinian won membership into UNESCO in 2011, and when it gained
non-member state status in the General Assembly in 2012.
said that Israel was urging states to oppose the WHO motion, of which there have
already been a number of drafts, because it represented the gross politicization
of the organization.
While at first the Palestinians wanted to leave the
Golan Heights off the resolution, they backtracked under pressure from some Arab
governments, the official said.
Even as tens of thousands of people are
being killed in Syria, the WHO document reports that the organization “has no
access to the occupied Syrian Golan and thus cannot provide a report on the
prevailing health conditions there.
Instead, the Secretariat has
requested the governments of the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel to provide
information on the health conditions in the occupied Syrian
Neither this document, nor any others presented to the assembly
meeting, makes any mention of the health situation elsewhere in
The Syrian government submitted a document that called on WHO to
“intervene immediately and take effective measures to end inhuman Israeli
practices that target the health of Syrian citizens.”
Authority submitted a document blasting Israel in the harshest language,
including in paragraph 22, which reads: “Israel also uses different methods to
assassinate those who resist occupation, such as in Gaza where individuals are
assassinated by aerial bombardment, whereas in the West Bank and Jerusalem,
assassination is carried out by firing directly on peaceful
Israel submitted a three paragraph statement, decrying the
politicization of the organization.
“The Health Assembly should not
discuss the health situation of a population in a specific conflict, as it is
not of a general public health nature. The Health Assembly is not the forum to
discuss the narrative of an ongoing conflict, nor the place to decide on
political matters,” the statement reads.
This was even more valid, the
statement continued, “given the ongoing deteriorating situation in Syria,
especially with regard to the health situation of the people of Syria and the
incomprehensible destruction caused to the public health facilities of the
Israel, the statement concluded, “regards the continuous World
Health Assembly’s debate on the ‘health conditions in the occupied Syrian
Golan,’ as an absurd example of the way the assembly’s agenda is cynically
abused, World Health Organization’s limited resources squandered, and will not
cooperate with it.”