The Czech Republic, which has a strong history of supporting Israel, has replaced Russia on the 47-member UN Human Rights Council.
The move comes in advance of the UNHRC’s 50th session that opens in June, when it is expected to receive its first report from the open-ended Commission of Inquiry against Israel.
The Czech Republic has opposed the commission, voting against its creation last year, while Russia supported it.Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch, said that “the Czech Republic has the strongest record in Europe in opposing anti-Israeli hatred.”
Israel fears that the report could either examine the question of whether the Jewish state has committed crimes of apartheid, or pave the way for such a question to be probed in the future.
The General Assembly voted to place the Czech Republic on the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. Russia withdrew from the council last month after the GA suspended its membership to protest Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky thanked “the UN member states for their support and trust. We really appreciate it!”
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said their presence on the council further strengthens its promotion of “human rights and fundamental freedoms globally.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Biden administration looks forward to working “closely with our Czech colleagues as we continue the important work of tackling human rights issues around the world.”
Under the Trump administration, the US had left the council in 2018 to protest its anti-Israel bias. US President Joe Biden resumed ties last year, and the GA elected it to a three-year term on the council.