US casts only vote for Israel in UNHRC

Six motions condemn Israeli settlement activity and human rights violations in ‘occupied’ Palestinian territories, Golan Heights.

UNHRC headquarters 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
UNHRC headquarters 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US was the only country to vote against all six United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions on Israel, which were approved in Geneva this Thursday and Friday.
“We are deeply troubled to once again be presented with a slate of resolutions replete with controversial elements and one-sided references that fail to address the real challenges of the region,” US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told the council.
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Israel needs to stop settlement activity in the West Bank and improve movement and access for the Palestinians, Donahoe said; but she added that progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be achieved through one-sided resolutions, such as the ones presented to the council.
The six resolutions the UNHRC approved condemned Israeli settlement activity and human rights violations in the “occupied” Palestinians territories and Golan Heights, and called for the right of Palestinian selfdetermination.
They also dealt with a followup report on last May’s Gaza flotilla and Israel’s military actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 and January 2009.
Donhoe’s comments were particularly harsh with respect to the resolution on the Gaza fact-finding mission, which had the approval of only 27 out of 46 member states on the council. Three countries voted against it and 16 abstained.
In contrast, the two resolutions on Israeli activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem had the approval of 45 members, with only the US voting against them.
The resolution on the Gaza fact-finding mission called for the UN Security Council to consider referring the issue of Israeli activity in the Palestinian territories to the International Criminal Court.
Donahoe said Israel has conducted credible investigations into its military activity in Gaza two years ago, and there is no need to refer the matter to the ICC.
“The Council is too often exploited as a platform from which to single out Israel, which undermines its credibility,” Donahue said. “The United States strongly encourages the Council to seek an alternative to highly politicized resolutions and a permanent agenda item focused on one country.
“There are serious human rights issues to be addressed in Israel and the Palestinian territories, but in the Human Rights Council, the human rights record of all states should be addressed under a robust common rubric.”
She added that ending the Israeli Palestinian conflict is the best way to address the human rights issues in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, said he told the council that the Gaza resolution comes at a time when Israel is under attack by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
He noted that five members of a Jewish family had been stabbed to death less than two weeks ago in the Itamar settlement, and on Wednesday a bomb exploded in Jerusalem, killing a British woman and wounding more than 50 people. At the same time, he added, Palestinians in Gaza are launching rockets against Israel’s southern cities.
While the council was focused on Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza, Leshno- Yaar noted that governments in the region were killing their own people in Yemen, Syria and Libya.
“Here in Geneva, this council spends its time repeatedly condemning Israel. Some still wonder why the reputation of this council is lower than the reputation of its infamous predecessor,” he said.
The Palestinian representative to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that Israeli policy for decades has been reduced to the phrase, “Shut up, there is a war going on.” In addressing the council prior to its vote on Israeli activity in the West Bank, he said that Israel “is trying to give the impression that it is targeted by a group of outlaws and assassins. I believe the reality is quite different,” he said.
Khraishi said the Palestinian Authority is willing to work with Israel to find the Jerusalem bomber, and condemns the killing of innocent Israelis and Palestinians.
“We are not asking for a coalition that is now bombarding Libya to bomb Israel,” he said. “We are simply asking to condemn the violence by any party that is [acting in a way that is] counter to international humanitarian law.”
Overall, the council, which wrapped up its 16th session on Friday, passed 40 resolutions.
Fourteen dealt with individual countries – out of which six targeted Israel. The council also passed resolutions in which it criticized human rights in Myanmar, North Korea and Cote d’Ivoire. It created a position of a special investigator into human rights issues in Iran.
The council also had resolutions that dealt with change in Burundi, Tunisia, the Republic of Congo and the Republic of Guinea.
According to the non-government group UN Watch, which monitors the Human Rights Council’s activity, prior to its 16th session the council approved 51 resolutions dealing with individual countries, 35 of which were against Israel.