US to UNHRC: ‘Stop anti-Israel bias’

Ambassador says US "troubled" by Council's "biased and disproportionate focus on Israel"; Palestinians ask for probe into settler behavior; Israel says request is ploy to dodge talks.

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March 20, 2012 02:48
2 minute read.
UNHRC headquarters in Geneva

UNHRC headquarters 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

The United States on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to stop its biased treatment of Israel.

It took particular issue with the council’s Agenda Item 7, under which at every session Israel’s human rights record in areas over the pre-1967 line is debated. Israel is the only country to have a dedicated agenda item.

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“The United States continues to be deeply troubled by this council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by this standing agenda item,” the US Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said.

She spoke during a day-long debate on five UNHRC resolutions on Israel and the Palestinians in Geneva, including one that dealt with Israel’s treatment of Syrians in the Golan Heights. One resolution dealt with Palestinian self-determination. Another called on the UNHRC to create a fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements. Two others condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“The hypocrisy of this item is further amplified by the resolutions brought under it, including a resolution on the human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan, motivated by the Syrian regime at a time when it is murdering its own citizens,” Donahoe said.

She said that her country believed the Palestinians should have a sovereign and contiguous state. It also supported the efforts of the humanitarian agencies on behalf of the Palestinian people.

“The effectiveness and legitimacy of this council can never be complete as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out for its own agenda item,” she said.

The US “implores” the council to “eliminate these biased resolutions and the permanent agenda item,” Donahoe said as she urged a balanced approach to human rights.

In her speech to the council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians had led to “large-scale violations of international law.” At the same time, however, she said that Palestinian rocket fire against Israeli citizens was illegal and unjustifiable.

Pillay also urged Palestinian leaders to enforce the rights of free speech and assembly.

PLO Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi spoke harshly against Israel and West Bank settlers. He called Israel’s military attack in Gaza against Palestinian rocket fire “unjustified.” In the West Bank, “there were savage attacks by herds of settlers,” he said.

Khraishi, along with other countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, accused Israel of the Judaization of Jerusalem.

Iran’s representative accused Israel of deflecting attention away from Palestinians by focusing on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, reminded the council that his country was the only democracy in the Middle East.

He called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table to reach a two-state solution to solve the conflict between them.

“It is time for the Human Rights Council to get back to the real work it is here to do. Work for the people of Syria and Iran and in other places where people’s lives actually depend on the international community taking action,” Leshno-Yaar said.

The council is set to vote on the resolutions at the end of the week.


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