Israel declines to sign UN statement on China’s treatment of Uyghurs

An Israeli diplomatic official told said that the Israeli government had “other interests that it has to balance” in its relationship with China.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S. (photo credit: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)

Israel chose not to sign a United Nations statement expressing concern about the welfare of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in China that has been forced into “re-education camps,” which some have likened to concentration camps.

While the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia were among the group of 43 countries that signed the statement last week, an Israeli diplomatic official told The Times of Israel that the Israeli government had “other interests that it has to balance” in its relationship with China.

The two nations have grown closer over trade ties in recent years.

The U.N. statement calls on China to “ensure full respect for the rule of law and to comply with its obligations under national and international law with regard to the protection of human rights.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry told The Times of Israel in a statement: “Israel expresses its concerns about the Uyghurs in various diplomatic tracks. One example of this was our signing onto the Canadian statement [on the Uyghurs] in June at the Human Rights Council. Our position on the issue has not changed.”

 Military vehicles carrying hypersonic missiles DF-17 travel past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JASON LEE) Military vehicles carrying hypersonic missiles DF-17 travel past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JASON LEE)

Concern over China’s treatment of the Uighur minority — and comparisons of its “re-education camps” to concentration camps during the Holocaust — have been growing within the global Jewish community for years. Activists in the United States have tried to mobilize the Jewish community behind the Uyghurs’ cause as in the case of the genocide in Darfur in the early 2000s, while British Jews have led the fight against the abuses of the Uyghurs in the United Kingdom.