Of all the UN organizations, the one officials in Jerusalem love to hate the most is the UN Human Rights Council.
And with good cause. This council, which always seems to include such human rights stalwarts as Saudi Arabia, China, Bangladesh, Egypt and Cuba, is traditionally stacked against Israel, and routinely condemns it.
Indeed, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to point out, the UNHRC has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than against all other countries of the world combined – and it is not even close.
“What about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined,” Netanyahu said just a month ago at his annual address to the UN General Assembly.
But with the election of nine new countries to the 47-member body last week, Israel’s position on the council improved somewhat. Five other countries were elected for another three-year term.
Of the nine new countrieson the council, five are likely to either vote for Israel or abstain on Israel-related votes in the future: the US, Rwanda, Hungary, Croatia and Japan. Of the countries that will be replaced, only the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and – sometimes – France, could be relied upon to abstain.
Jerusalem is not shedding any tears that Vietnam, a country with whom it has close economic ties, will no longer be on the council, since it continuously votes against Israel in international fora, even as trade between the two countries grows steadily. Nor will Israel mourn the loss on the council of Russia, another country that always votes against Israel, despite strong diplomatic ties.
Jerusalem will also not miss Mexico, which has an inexplicable record of voting against Israel, something that repeated itself in UNESCO earlier this month. Mexico later changed its vote to abstain on the resolution that expunged any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, but its voting record on Israel in international organizations can only be described as abysmal.
The biggest plus for Israel on the new council is the US, returning to the council following a mandatory one-year absence after serving two consecutive three-year terms.
But in addition to the US, Rwanda has proven its mettle to Israel in international fora in the past, casting a key abstention in the UN Security Council in 2014, a vote that prevented the Palestinians from getting the nine votes in the 15-member body for a resolution that called for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and establishment of a Palestinian state by 2017.
Croatia, another new country on the council, earned Netanyahu’s praise on Sunday at the cabinet meeting for joining Tanzania in preventing an anti-Israel Jerusalem-related resolution at UNESCO from passing by consensus, demanding instead a secret ballot. That ballot, which Israel lost 10-2 with eight abstentions, deprived the resolution of any practical significance.
Two other new UNHRC countries – Hungary and Japan – meanwhile, have a history of abstaining when it comes to Israel. Another three countries elected last week will certainly vote against Israel – Tunisia, Iraq and Egypt – while Brazil will most likely vote against, but could conceivably abstain in certain circumstances.
On the incoming council, the US can be counted on to vote for Israel, while another 10 countries would likely lean toward abstaining, though it is not inconceivable that they might vote for Israel: Germany, Georgia Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Croatia, Togo and the United Kingdom.
Another 12 would likely abstain: Albania, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Latvia, Panama, Philippines, South Korea and Hungary.
This leaves 19 who will surely vote against Israel: Iraq, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, China, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, Mongolia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Another five countries lean toward always voting against, but might – under certain conditions – abstain: Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Slovenia and Switzerland.
All told, anti-Israel votes at the newly-constituted UNHRC next year will pass, but with less of a majority than in the past. One country will vote for Israel, 10 others will abstain or possibly vote with Israel, 12 will most likely abstain, 19 will surely vote against, and another five might abstain, or vote against.
Though this line-up in the most historically anti-Israel of all UN agencies is far from promising, it is somewhat better than in years past.
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