When retired British Col. Richard Kemp took the floor at the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 14, he did something controversial. He dared to accuse the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel and its disinformation campaign of furthering Hamas’s illegal war against Israel.
It’s unsurprising that the Palestinian Authority sought to interrupt Kemp by raising a point of order. Kemp’s comments triggered the representative for the PA, clearly Hamas’s rivals. By shifting the perceived paradigm of conflict from between Israel and the PA ruling the West Bank, to between Israel and Hamas, Kemp stole the spotlight from the PA, which has increasingly struggled to remain relevant as more Palestinians have entrusted Hamas to champion their cause.
Most importantly, Kemp exposed the UNHRC for seeming to advance Hamas’s agenda. However controversial his comments, Kemp is surely correct in his assessment that the UN and its agencies appear to be furthering Hamas’s agenda. By delegitimizing both Israel and the PA – Hamas’s sole competitor for power – while absolving Hamas of culpability, the UN has afforded Hamas the moral high ground and has paved the way for it to terrorize, rule and dictate with impunity.
Hamas’s agenda, like those of other terrorist organizations, seeks radical change by delegitimizing the status quo. By delegitimizing Israel, Hamas can justify its violent aspirations to destroy the country and kill Jews worldwide as enshrined in its charter.
The UN appears to have come to Hamas’s aid when it comes to absolving Hamas of wrongdoing and scapegoating Israel. To date, the UN has refused to even once condemn Hamas by name in a resolution. In 2018, the General Assembly even came to Hamas’s defense, voting against a resolution that sought to condemn Hamas for firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
Now, the UNHRC – the very body entrusted with guarding human rights – and its COI on Israel seek to completely whitewash Hamas of wrongdoing. In its preliminary 18-page report designed to identify root causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the COI names Hamas only three times, while naming Israel approximately 150 times. The “Palestinian Authority” is explicitly referenced six times, while “Palestinian authorities,” a term the report leaves undefined, is referenced three times.
Throughout the report, the COI actively erases mention of Hamas, instead delegating criticism to the “de facto authority in Gaza” and the “de facto authorities in Gaza,” which are collectively mentioned only eight times. By erasing Hamas’s name, the COI ultimately erases Hamas – its recruitment of child soldiers and the tens of thousands of rockets it has fired at civilian locations – from the conflict.
WHILE PRECLUDING Hamas from accountability, the UN scapegoats Israel, blaming Israel’s alleged occupation as the “one common issue that constitutes the underlying root cause of recurrent tensions.”
The COI’s final report is expected to reflect the biases of its commissioners and accuse Israel of apartheid, justifying Hamas’s vision that Israel exists in irreparable moral disrepair, deserving destruction. Paragraph 70 of the COI’s preliminary report already seems to accuse Israel of apartheid, alleging that Israel is “acting to alter the demography through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favorable environment for Israeli settlers.”
Apartheid allegations are but part of the UN’s seeming campaign to depict Israel as a state existing in perpetual sin. It is why the COI on Israel’s mandate to scrutinize Israel is the only such UN instrument designed to last forever, and why Israel is the only country to have a permanent agenda item ensuring that it be scrutinized in each UNHRC session for eternity. A testament to the UN’s bias, Israel has also sustained more than 50% of all condemnatory resolutions – amounting to hundreds – in both the General Assembly and Human Rights Council in recent years, according to UN Watch.
With Israel delegitimized, the PA now remains the sole obstacle to Hamas’s aspirations. Hamas and the Fatah-governed PA have long wrestled over the right to champion the Palestinian cause, fighting a civil war in 2007 after Hamas won elections but the PA refused to relinquish power. While Hamas governs Gaza, it stands accused of trying to take over the Temple Mount and the Fatah-dominated West Bank.
Despite the surrounding sensitivities, the COI seemingly interjected on Hamas’s behalf against the PA. It attacked the Fatah-dominated PA for “frequently refer[ring] to the occupation as a justification for its own human rights violations and as the core reason for failure to hold legislative and presidential elections.” And it made sure to name the PA more than it did Hamas throughout its initial report, a testament to its sympathies.
In sum, the UNHRC’s recent COI on Israel is likely but part of a larger UN effort to further Hamas’s agenda. By scapegoating Israel, condemning the PA, and absolving Hamas from its overwhelming role in the conflict, the UN shamefully primes Hamas and its violence for impunity. The civilians the UN are supposed to protect will tragically share the consequences. These include those in Gaza who continue to suffer as Hamas tragically exhausts hundreds of millions of dollars into building cross-border attack tunnels and inciting wars that could otherwise be used to finance desperately needed nation-building efforts.
The writer is the director of policy education for StandWithUs.