Israel, US oppose new UN rights body

Israel was one of a few countries poised to vote with the United States in the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday against establishing a new UN body to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission. The US has argued that rights abusers could still be elected to the new body under the proposed rules. World leaders at September's UN summit decided to create a new council to replace the commission, which has been criticized for allowing some of the worst rights-offending countries to use their membership to protect one another from condemnation. In recent years, members have included Sudan, Libya, Zimbabwe and Cuba. The Americans want members of the council to be elected by a two-thirds vote, not the simple majority now called for, to help keep rights abusers out. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev explained that Israel's opposition was because UN bodies designed to deal with human rights have, over the years, become "vehicles for singling out Israel, and for Israel bashing." Regev said also that although Israel welcomed the pursuit of a new human rights framework at the UN, it felt that "some of the problems in the previous structure are present in the current structure as well. We are concerned that it could still be manipulated to advance an extremist anti-Israel agenda instead of promoting human rights."