US must push to defund the UN's COI against Israel - 49 Congress members

Last year the US and Israel tried and failed to defund the COI, although they were able to reduce its budget by close to 25%.

 US AMBASSADOR to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a meeting last week of the General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine. (photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
US AMBASSADOR to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a meeting last week of the General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine.
(photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

The United States must work to defund and eliminate the United Nations permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel, a group of 49 bipartisan US Congress members said in a letter they wrote to America’s Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“The commission’s distorted investigatory work has proven to be profoundly problematic,” the group wrote in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) and Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania).

Since the commission's inception last year, the three-member probe led by South African legal expert Navi Pillay initiated the drive to seek an International Court of Justice advisory opinion on whether Israel's prolonged control of the West Bank is tantamount to de facto annexation.

Its members have, in addition, spoken of their intention to explore the question of whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.

Commissioner Miloon Kothari made waves this summer when he said that social media was largely controlled by the “Jewish lobby,” a statement he later retracted due to its antisemitic connotations.

 Israeli President Isaac Herzog with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, November 15, 2021.  (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO) Israeli President Isaac Herzog with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, November 15, 2021. (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO)

UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council that created the COI – to investigate alleged Israeli human rights abuses both within sovereign Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza, – is the only body that has the authority to end that commission’s mandate.

The UN General Assembly in New York, however, which controls the commission’s budget, must renew it annually.

Last year, the US and Israel tried and failed to defund the COI, although they were able to reduce its budget by close to 25%.

The 49 Congress members, in their letter issued on Wednesday, asked Thomas-Greenfield, who represents the US in New York, to push again to defund the COI when its budget comes to the UNGA for approval, given the Biden administration’s opposition to the probe.

“As the UN budget process unfolds in the coming weeks, we urge the US delegation to strongly advocate to restrict this biased commission’s funding from within the UN system and take steps to eliminate the commission completely,” the Congress members said.

"As the UN budget process unfolds in the coming weeks, we urge the US delegation to strongly advocate to restrict this biased omission's funding from within the UN system and take steps to eliminate the commission completely."

Thomas-Greenfield

“Taking a stand against anti-Israel bias within the UN has been a priority for both Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

“We stand ready to assist you in any way in defending our democratic ally, Israel,” the Congress members wrote.