UNRHC voted 26-16 against Israel’s 'occupation' of the Golan Heights

The prescheduled vote, come just one day after the US President Donald Trump said the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan.

March 24, 2019 08:57
2 minute read.
AN IRON DOME antimissile system is installed near the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the G

AN IRON DOME antimissile system is installed near the Israeli side of the border with Syria in the Golan Heights . (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)


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The UNHRC voted 26-16 on Friday to condemn Israel’s “occupation” of the Golan Heights.

There were five abstentions to the pre-scheduled vote, which came one day after US President Donald Trump said the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan. Israel annexed the Golan in 1981 after capturing it from Syria in 1967. Trump’s comments make the US the first country to recognize that annexation.

At the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, however, the resolution’s passage by a slim majority of the council’s 47 members was reflective of the larger debate over anti-Israel bias and had little to do with the Golan issue.

The European Union, which has opposed Trump’s statement, did not support the passage of the Golan resolution, with all 10 EU nations on the UNHRC voting against it.

Bulgarian Ambassador Deyana Kostadinova said the EU continued to oppose Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan, which is a clear violation of international law.

“The EU reaffirms its commitment to protection of human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan and the applicability of the 4th Geneva convention to the occupied Golan.”

But the UNHRC resolution, Kostadinova said, is unbalanced.

“It expresses deep concern for the suffering of the Syrian citizens due to Israeli action, but does not mention the suffering caused by the Syrian regime,” she said.

Last year, the EU’s 10 member states also opposed the annual Golan resolution. The vote in 2018 was similar to this year’s, with the resolution passing 25-14 with 7 abstentions.

Japan, however, sharpened its opposition. Last year it abstained and this year it voted against the text out of concern of anti-Israel bias even though it opposes Israel’s annexation of the Golan.

Brazil, which last year supported the resolution, decided this year to abstain. Ambassador Maria Nazareth Farani Azevedo said the text is “unbalanced and biased” since it addressed only part of the human rights concerns of the Syrian people.

“The text before us draws attention to Israeli actions in the occupied Golan, but is silent about the human rights violations committed by the Syrian government.”

Syrian Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala said it was important for member states to support the resolution because the “international community should reject any illegal occupation.”

Passage of this resolution sends “a clear message about the credibility of this council” and “a message to the occupying power,” he said.

These countries that opposed the vote were: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Togo, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The five countries that abstained were: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Rwanda and Somalia.
Bahrain told the council it had voted to support the resolution by mistake and wanted the record to reflect the fact that it had abstained.

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