UN Human Rights Council approves call for arms embargo against Israel

The council approved five anti-Israel resolutions during the Geneva body's 37th session.

March 23, 2018 20:36
3 minute read.
UN Human Rights Council approves call for arms embargo against Israel

Overview of the United Nations Human Rights Council is seen in Geneva, Switzerland June 6, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The United Nations Human Rights Council called on the international community to halt arms sales to Israel as it wrapped up its month-long 37th session in Geneva.

It approved five anti-Israel resolutions, including one called “Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

By a 27 to 4 vote, with 15 abstentions, the UNHRC called upon “all states to promote compliance under international law” with regard to Israeli actions.

It asked the states to do so “by ensuring that their public authorities and private entities do not become involved in internationally unlawful conduct, inter alia the provision of arms to end users known or likely to use the arms in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian and/or human rights law.”

Support for a resolution that called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights was similarly low. It passed by 25 votes to 14 and 7 abstentions.

Resolutions on Palestinian self-determination calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines as well as one that called on Israel to halt settlement activity and another that condemned it for human rights abuses against the Palestinians were also approved.

Australia, which only joined the council as a member this year, stood with the US in opposing all of the resolutions. Both countries, as well as the United Kingdom, all spoke against UNHRC bias against Israel.

The three states called for the abolition of the UNHRC mandate that Israeli human rights abuses must be debated at every session under Agenda Item 7.

They asked instead that issues regarding Israel be debated under Agenda Item 4, which is set aside for the UNHRC to examine human rights abuses in all UN member states.

Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi warned that if calls to abolish Agenda Item 7 continued, the PA would begin to submit resolutions against Israel under Agenda Item 4 in addition to those that would be debated under Agenda Item 7.

He added that the best way to abolish Agenda Item 7 was an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines and the end to the “occupation.”
PM Netanyahu thanks President Trump and Ambassador Haley for vetoing UNSC resolution calling on Trump to withdraw Jerusalem recognition. (GPO)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed the council's continued anti-Israel bias, stating that the US would continue to consider its options regarding membership of the Geneva-based body.

“When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the Council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name. It is time for the countries who know better to demand changes. Many countries agree that the Council’s agenda is grossly biased against Israel, but too few are willing to fight it," said Haley.

"When that happens, as it did today, the Council fails to fulfill its duty to uphold human rights around the world. The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council. Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights," she added.

The UK said it opposed Agenda Item 7 and charged the UNHRC with bias against Israel. It voted against the resolutions on the Golan Heights and the one on accountability. The UK voted in favor of the resolutions on human rights and Palestinian self-determination. It abstained on the resolution on settlements due to its opposition to the UNHRC’s work to create a blacklist of companies doing business with Israeli settlements.

“Our vote against the accountability resolution is not a vote against the importance of accountability and justice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is a vote against the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel,” the UK representative said.

“However, we must not lose sight of the deeply concerning situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories," the representative added.

“We continue to be alarmed by the treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military detention. We have also seen horrific terrorist violence against Israelis, which must be condemned in the strongest terms. All of this gravely undermines the viability of a two-state solution," the UK representative said.

“Therefore, today, the UK is voting in support of the self-determination and human rights resolutions. But the credibility and impact of these resolutions is repeatedly undermined by their being tabled under Item 7. This cannot continue,” the UK representative concluded.

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