Overview of the United Nations Human Rights Council is seen in Geneva, Switzerland June 6, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel attacked as “deplorable” the politicization of the United Nations Human Rights Council as it set about defending its human rights record in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The continuous discrimination against Israel” and “the unparalleled number of one-sided biased and political resolutions adopted regularly by the automatic majority of its members testifies not only to the unfair treatment of the State of Israel but to the deficiencies of the council itself and its agenda,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aviva Raz Shechter said.
She spoke at the start of the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review of Israel’s human rights record.
Since the UNHRC’s inception in 2006, the 47-member body has been charged with reviewing the human rights record of the 193 UN member states.
It reviewed Israel’s human rights record in 2008 and 2013 and is undergoing its third review of member states, including Israel.
This review is separate from the three monthly sessions the UNHRC holds each year and all the debates and studies it does on Israel during those sessions.
The UPR is considered to be a more impartial process. Israel takes the procedures seriously and sent a special delegation from the Justice Ministry, headed by the office’s director-general, Emi Palmor, to discuss Israel’s human rights record.
The review looks at all aspects of Israeli society, including religious and minority rights, refugees, human trafficking, racism, gender issues and rights for people with disabilities.
Israel’s written review will be authorized by Rwanda, Mongolia and the United Kingdom. But the debate took place with representatives from UN member states as well as from the Palestinian Authority.
A number of states focused their comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, while others took a broader view of Israel’s human rights record.
Jordan’s representative, Akram S. Harahsheh, called on Israel to withdraw from territories it has “occupied since 1967” and for the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Jordan called on Israel to preserve the religious and cultural heritage of the “occupied Palestinian territories,” especially to respect the historic status of al-Aksa Mosque.
PA representative Diam Asfour called on Israel to dismantle the security barrier, end its restrictions on the movement of goods and people into Gaza and to halt “the annexation of Palestinian land and the forcible transfer of Palestinians.”
US representative Jason Ross Mack said he welcomed Israel’s commitment to democracy, its free elections and open society. But it asked that Israel allow all components of society regardless of ideological and political affiliation to have “an effective voice in civil affairs,” Mack said.
Israel should work to minimize the number and duration of administrative detention orders and ensure these detainees, with the help of attorneys, can appeal their situation in court.
Lastly, Israel should provide better resources to Arab-Israeli and Beduin communities to improve access to land, education, health care and employment, Mack said.
Germany’s representative Antje Leendertse commended Israel for progress made with regard to LGBT rights, but said it was worried by the human rights situation of Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, including housing demolitions and revocation of Palestinian residency permits in the capital.
Leendertse also asked Israel to respect the rights of refugees and to refrain from implementing a policy of forced relocation of those refugees to third countries without safeguards for their physical safety.
An initial review will be given to Israel on Thursday and Friday of this week.