Israeli ambassador: UNHRC is a failure

Israel is only country to garner censures in group's six-month existence.

United Nations AP 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
United Nations AP 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The UN Human Rights Council continued its record of censuring only Israel when it passed two anti-Israel resolutions in Geneva on Monday in which it declared the annexation of the Golan Heights was illegal and issued a broad condemnation of settlement activities. The council, which has been in existence for only six months, replaced the Human Rights Commission, which was scrapped largely because it allowed "abuser nations" such as Sudan and Libya to take part and repeatedly singled out Israel.
  • UN human rights head slams Israel In a telephone interview from Geneva, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations in that city, Itzhak Levanon, told The Jerusalem Post that events were proving that the new council "is worse than the old commission." He added that "it is completely politicized" because it is still controlled by Arab and Muslim states. Since its inception, the council has passed no resolution condemning the more than 200,000 deaths in Darfur, where since 2003 Sudanese government forces and the militias it supports have been accused of committing widespread atrocities against civilians. But according to Levanon, the council has held three special sessions on Israel and passed some 10 resolutions against it. The council, Levanon charged, "is perceived as a failure" because it has focused on Israel to the exclusion of other pressing human rights needs. On Sunday, by a 32-1 vote, it declared that Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights was illegal. In a more sweeping resolution, 45 of the 47 member states in the council ignored Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's promise to evacuate more settlements and condemned Israel's continued presence in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The only country to vote against the condemnation of settlement activity was Canada. It argued that the United Nations General Assembly was the more appropriate forum in which to address the issue. The United States and Israel are not members, but Levanon spoke against the resolutions. He explained that the Arab states had put forward the resolution that condemned Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights in the name of Syria, which is also not a member of the Council, "purely to draw attention away from its... own deplorable human rights record." "Under Syrian possession, the Golan Heights were used to launch constant attacks against Israeli civilians," Levanon said. "Today, the Golan Heights are more peaceful than ever, stable and thriving. The economy is booming, fields are blossoming and everyone is enjoying the benefits of democracy." But, he said, he was more concerned with the condemnation of settlement activity, which had the support of the European countries. It marks the first time Europe has voted against Israel in the Human Rights Council, Levanon said. The five-page resolution also denounced Israel's decision to build a streetcar line between west Jerusalem and Pisgat Ze'ev, an Israeli neighborhood in Jerusalem over the Green Line. The resolution also criticized restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, including the "construction, contrary to international law, of the wall inside the occupied Palestinian territory." AP contributed to this report.