PA hammers Israel at WHO annual assembly

Palestinian territories, Golan only sliver on the planet to gain a slot on World Health Organization's conference.

World Health Organisation 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
World Health Organisation 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Crammed in among the topics for discussion at this week’s World Health Organization annual assembly – between incommunicable diseases, pandemics, universal health coverage and the eradication of dracunculiasis – is the following: “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
“The occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” is the only sliver on the planet to gain a slot on the annual meeting in Geneva’s provisional agenda.
Discussion of the topic is expected to be accompanied this year – as always – by a resolution blasting Israel for poor health conditions in the territories.
The Foreign Ministry, as always, has directed its representatives abroad to lobby their host governments to vote against the motion.
One Foreign Ministry official, asked if an anti-Israel resolution does not contravene reported Palestinian agreements to refrain from unilateral action in international forums against Israel while US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to get the two sides to the negotiating table, said this was an annual ritual, and was not an effort to upgrade the Palestinian representation in the organization.
The Palestinian commitment undertaken to help create a better environment for Kerry, the official said, only had to do with bids for upgrades in UN organizations, such as when the Palestinian won membership into UNESCO in 2011, and when it gained non-member state status in the General Assembly in 2012.
The official said that Israel was urging states to oppose the WHO motion, of which there have already been a number of drafts, because it represented the gross politicization of the organization.
While at first the Palestinians wanted to leave the Golan Heights off the resolution, they backtracked under pressure from some Arab governments, the official said.
Even as tens of thousands of people are being killed in Syria, the WHO document reports that the organization “has no access to the occupied Syrian Golan and thus cannot provide a report on the prevailing health conditions there.
Instead, the Secretariat has requested the governments of the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel to provide information on the health conditions in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
Neither this document, nor any others presented to the assembly meeting, makes any mention of the health situation elsewhere in Syria.
The Syrian government submitted a document that called on WHO to “intervene immediately and take effective measures to end inhuman Israeli practices that target the health of Syrian citizens.”
The Palestinian Authority submitted a document blasting Israel in the harshest language, including in paragraph 22, which reads: “Israel also uses different methods to assassinate those who resist occupation, such as in Gaza where individuals are assassinated by aerial bombardment, whereas in the West Bank and Jerusalem, assassination is carried out by firing directly on peaceful protesters.”
Israel submitted a three paragraph statement, decrying the politicization of the organization.
“The Health Assembly should not discuss the health situation of a population in a specific conflict, as it is not of a general public health nature. The Health Assembly is not the forum to discuss the narrative of an ongoing conflict, nor the place to decide on political matters,” the statement reads.
This was even more valid, the statement continued, “given the ongoing deteriorating situation in Syria, especially with regard to the health situation of the people of Syria and the incomprehensible destruction caused to the public health facilities of the country.”
Israel, the statement concluded, “regards the continuous World Health Assembly’s debate on the ‘health conditions in the occupied Syrian Golan,’ as an absurd example of the way the assembly’s agenda is cynically abused, World Health Organization’s limited resources squandered, and will not cooperate with it.”