The US on Monday affirmed that it stands with Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council and opposes biased actions by that body against the Jewish state.
It therefore plans to continue to oppose the UNHRC mandate to use Agenda Item 7 to debate Israeli violations of human rights at every session. There is no such mandate to repeatedly censure any other country.
“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it,” the US Ambassador to the UNHRC Keith Harper said on Monday.
He explained that his country had joined Israel in boycotting the debate.
The US has warned that it is reevaluating its stance on Israel at the UN Security Council in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election comments that a Palestinian state would not be created while he is premier.
On Monday Harper issued a statement that clarified that the US continues to reject anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC.
“The United States’ approach to the Human Rights Council’s Item 7 has not changed,” Harper said.
“We remain deeply troubled – by this council’s stand-alone agenda item directed against Israel, and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item,” he said.
“As was the case last year, the United States will not engage in the debate. Neither will Israel. Instead, we will call a vote, and vote no on Item 7 resolutions,” he said.
Upon taking office in 2009, US President Barack Obama has made eliminating Agenda Item 7 one of his policy objectives.
Since 2013, the US, Israel and many Western countries, including the EU, have refrained from taking the floor during the Agenda Item 7 debate. They have preferred instead to make statements under Agenda Item 4, which discusses human rights violations of all countries.
This public stand against Agenda Item 7 was one of a number of steps that were taken two years ago to sway Israel to reestablish its ties with the UNHRC.
Still on Monday, five EU countries — Sweden, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Ireland and Malta — broke rank with that policy and censured Israel.
Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aaia condemned the attacks on Agenda Item 7.
“It is regrettable that some countries are so hypocritical that they call on the council...to cease condemnation of Israeli practices instead of calling on the occupying forces to cease their crimes and their violations,” Edin Aaia said.
On Monday, during the UNHRC Agenda Item 7 debate, the 47-member body heard seven reports on Israeli human rights violations in the Palestinian territories, more than were issued on any other country during its 28th session. There were two reports on Iran and one on Syria.
The documents focused on last summer’s Gaza war, the continued “blockade” of Gaza, the slow reconstruction effort, Israeli settlement buildings, IDF use of force against Palestinian protesters in the West Bank and Israel’s arrest and treatment of Palestinian minors in detention.
Three of the reports were penned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, three were by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein and one by UNHRC special investigator Makarim Wibisono.
That report questioned Israel’s adherence to the principle of proportionality and said it may have deliberately targeted civilian areas in Gaza.
The council also issued four resolutions against Israel, including one that called on it to withdraw from the Golan Heights. One affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and urged all UN bodies to help Palestinians achieve that right.
Another, on settlements, called for Israel to freeze and then reverse its settlement enterprise. It also called on all UN member states “to ensure that they are not taking actions that either recognize or assist the expansion of settlements or construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem.”
The resolution further urged that states insure that businesses domiciled in their territory refrain from contributing to “gross human rights abuses of Palestinians” including refraining from settlement- related activities.
The fourth resolution was fairly broad, listing multiple Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians.
For several hours, country after country protested Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, including Algeria, which went so far as to accuse Israel of genocide.
The PLO Ambassador to the UNHRC Ibrahim Khraishi said, “We call on Israel to stop occupation and implore the international community to do its utmost to stop the occupation. Israel can’t act irrespective of international law.”