Britain's Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt arrives at the BBC in central London, Britain, July 9, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SIMON DAWSON)
The UK has promised to honor its pledge to oppose anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In a piece written for The Jewish Chronicle, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that items devoted to discussing rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza have a “disproportionate and discriminatory” focus on Israel, and that the UK would oppose such discussions at the UNHRC.
“We will continue to press for the abolition of Item 7, which only undermines the credibility of the world’s leading human rights forum,” he wrote in The JC
op-ed. “For too long, a permanent item on the Human Rights Council has been dedicated solely to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Instead of promoting reconciliation and compromise, Item 7 strengthens the narrative that one side alone holds a monopoly on fault."
He added that he believes "this disproportionate and discriminatory focus on Israel undermines the credibility of the world’s leading human rights forum and obstructs the quest for peace in the Middle East. That is why the UK will be opposing every Item 7 resolution at the HRC.”
Item 7 on the UNHRC agenda focuses on the “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” It is listed as a permanent feature of the council’s agenda.
On Wednesday, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt also confirmed this, telling the House of Commons that the "UK made clear some time ago in relation to Item 7 of the UN Human Right Council determinations we would oppose those items – and we expect to do so.”
World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder praised the United Kingdom "for taking the principled stance of voting against the blatantly one-sided and biased resolutions up for debate under Item 7, the only country-specific item on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s agenda.”
“As we have said time and again, the UNHRC routinely misses the critical opportunity to expose the accountability of the Palestinian leadership for the deterioration of human rights in the territories under their control, and instead chooses to scapegoat Israel with severe and absurd double standards,” Lauder continued. “These resolutions place undue blame on Israel for human rights abuses, while explicitly ignoring the responsibility and culpability of the Palestinian leadership, including Hamas, to this regard.”
“This one-sided approach directly harms the Palestinians and exacerbates their suffering, while derailing the council from meaningful and effective debate and undermining its credibility as a body dedicated to defending human rights around the world,” Lauder added.
The WJC leader also urged other European Union states to follow in the UK’s lead and "firmly reject the UNHRC’s pathological promotion of anti-Israel resolutions.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, congratulated the UK on its new and principled stance that it will fulfill its promise to vote against Item 7-related decisions at the UNHRC.
"We would particularly like to thank Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for their leadership on this issue," she said. "All supporters of human rights should applaud this move, which could in time lead to the UN ceasing to be discredited through its overt partisanship and becoming trusted once again as the arbiter of universal human rights that we all want it to be."
"We call on other states who genuinely support the advancement of human rights to follow the UK’s moral stand,” van der Zyl said.
Britain would begin by voting against all four Item 7 texts put forward for the 40th session of the 47-member council in Geneva on Friday.
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