Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 18, 2018..
(photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS)
Great Britain warned on Monday that it will vote against anti-Israel resolutions unless the United Nations Human Rights Council stops its bias against the Jewish state by the end of 2018.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson took issue specifically Monday with the UNHRC mandate that it debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at each session under Agenda Item 7.
“We share the view that a dedicated agenda item focused solely on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace” Johnson said.
Johnson spoke at the opening of the UNHRC’s 38th session in Geneva, which runs until July 6. The Agenda Item 7 debate is set for Monday, July 2.
The US and Israel have long lobbied for the elimination of Agenda Item 7. There had been some speculation that the US would appeal to the United Nations General Assembly and ask that it vote to eliminate Agenda Item 7.
The US consistently votes against all Agenda Item 7 resolutions, while European Union countries tend to abstain.
But British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government
has been increasingly vocal on the issue of Agenda Item 7 and UNHRC bias on Israel.
Johnson told the UNHRC Monday that, “unless things change we shall move next year to vote against all resolutions introduced under Agenda Item 7.”
“That does not mean,” Johnson said, “that we in the UK are blind to the value of this council, including the work it could do on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
In contrast UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein took Israel to task in his opening speech for failing to assist its investigatory officials ,including Michael Lynk, who is the UNHRC’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.
“This has been the case for three successive holders of the mandate,” Zeid said.
Israel is the only country with a designated UNHRC rapporteur.
"Israel in the past has denied access to all commissions of inquiry," said Zeid as he urged it to open its door to officials involved in the UNHRC probe into the IDF’s activity along the Israeli-Gaza border.
“I urge Israel to provide access to all human rights mechanisms – including the investigative body mandated last month – to enable impartial monitoring and advance accountability and justice,” Zeid said.
Zeid’s is scheduled to leave his post at the end of August and the 38th session is his last.
In Monday speech he also took the United States to task for its border policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents.
“I am deeply concerned by recently adopted policies which punish children for their parents’ actions,” Zeid said.
“In the past six weeks, nearly two thousand children have been forcibly separated from their parents,” he said.