Amid COVID-19 WHO condemns Israeli treatment of Palestinians

Seven countries that supported the motion last year, abstained this year: Sweden, Norway, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Uruguay, UN Watch said.

THE LARGE majority of Palestinians want the current leadership out and they want new elections. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a virtual meeting in September with Palestinian factions about the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement.  (photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
THE LARGE majority of Palestinians want the current leadership out and they want new elections. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a virtual meeting in September with Palestinian factions about the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement.
(photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
World Health Organization member states on Thursday approved an annual report that condemns Israeli treatment of Palestinians over the pre-1967 lines and Syrians in the Golan Heights.
The resolution that accompanied the report, which called for additional resources to help Palestinians and Syrians in the Golan was approved virtually by a 78-14 vote, with 32 abstentions and 56 absences.
Last year, the vote was 96-11, with 21 abstentions and 56 absences, according to Meirav Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the WHO .
The resolution was opposed by the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras, Hungary and Israel, according to UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO. In addition, Slovenia, Cameroon, Eswatini and Micronesia changed their stance and voted “no.”
Seven countries that supported the motion last year abstained this year: Sweden, Norway, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Uruguay, UN Watch said.
Israel is the only country against whom a report is issued annually, Shahar said.
In her speech prior to the vote, Shahar accused WHO of playing politics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in the midst of a global pandemic with almost 1.3 million lives lost around the world,” she said. “There are many emerging health challenges. These should be the focus of the agenda, not politics.”
“It is vital we all stand up to the misuse of this forum and the politicization of an otherwise UN professional agency,” she said.
The resolution did not take into account the cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to provide health care, including treating Palestinians in Israel hospitals, Shahar said.
She took particular issue with Syria’s sponsorship of the resolution, as well as the condemnation of Israel’s medical treatment of Syrians, given that the Assad regime was attacking its own civilians with chemical weapons.
The Assad regime “uses chemical weapons on its own citizens” and “deliberately targets and destroys health centers, threatens WHO staff and prevents first-aid care to be delivered,” Shahar said.
A Who report three years ago found that there were “no significant barriers” to health for Syrian residents of the Golan Heights, she said, adding that it was never published.
“I can only wish that Syrian people living in Idlib and Aleppo will have access to similar health services,” Shahar said.
The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the WHO said it was unfortunate that the situation of treatment of Palestinians had been politicized. He accused Israel of preventing healthcare treatment of Palestinians, including COVID-19 patients.
“We will not accept the story that has been told by the occupying power,” the PA ambassador said. “We want the WHO to continue to provide technical assistance to Palestine. We also want Israel to respect its obligations as a member of the WHO.”


Tags COVID-19 WHO