It was last Thursday that the UN Human Rights Council voted to send a “mission” to investigate the way in which the “settlements” infringe on the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs, prompting a very angry response from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Shades of Goldstone.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Lieberman, after consulting with top staff in his ministry, decided to severe all ties with the council. For this I say Bravo! as no other response would have been appropriate.
From now on, said a senior diplomatic official sited by the JPost, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva (which is where that HRC sits) will not appear before the council, answer any of its phone calls or cooperate with Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay in any way.
Israel will also bar the settlement “fact finding mission” from entering Israel.
This all sounds right to me.
Israel will not recall its ambassador to Geneva, because there are other UN organizations situated there with which Israel does cooperate fully.
But Israel is considering the proper measures to take against the Palestinian Authority, which initiated this action as part of its unilateral strategy.
Israel will also be calling in the envoys of states on the council (Austria and Belgium, members of the EU, have been identified) that are considered friendly but which voted for the measure, in order to register a protest.
UN Human Rights Council President Laura Dupuy Lasserre — from Uruguay, in a rotating presidency — said that if Israel cuts ties with the council it would be “regrettable,” for cooperation would provide Israel with the opportunity to “explain its own policies and actions to the independent commissioners…” Independent my foot. Explaining our policies would only be a constructive endeavor if those receiving the information were objective, and we know with certainty that this would not be the case.
Lasserre’s declaration that the council “always valued Israel’s participation” is so hypocritical that it can only be considered a crude joke. There is not even a pretense on that council of fairness towards Israel; the bias is so blatant as to be obscene.
I ask you please to take the time to see this short Eye on the UN video clip of the UN Human Rights Council:
Here you will see Syria talking about blood on Israeli hands. Syria. Could it get more ludicrous than this? Then there is the representative of “Palestine” saying that Israel attacked Gaza “for no reason at all.”
The Human Rights Council, which is composed of 47 members, including such stalwart defenders of human rights as Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia, is inherently corrupt and anti-Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out the other day, “the council has made 91 decisions, 39 of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran.”
Human Rights Watch, located in Geneva, provides — http://www.unwatch.org/site/c.bdKKISNqEmG/b.3820041/ — an examination of the council’s resolutions concerning Israel that speaks for itself. For example:
“Expressing grave concern at the continuing construction…by Israel of the wall inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem…” in March 2008, which made no mention of the Palestinian Arab terrorism that seriously violated the human rights of Israelis and necessitated the construction of the wall.
“Demands that the occupying Power, Israel, stop the targeting [in Gaza] of civilians and medical facilities and staff and the systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people, in addition to the destruction of public and private properties…” in January 2009, which ignored the defensive action of Israel against Hamas rocket attacks, and falsely accused Israel of targeting civilians and medical facilities. And what “systematic destruction of the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people”?
“Condemns the… recent announcement that it would add al-Haram al Ibrahimi [Cave of the Patriarchs] in Hebron and Bilal Mosque [‘Tomb of Rachel’] in Bethlehem and the walls of the old city of Jerusalem to its list of national heritage sites…”
“Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately cease all diggings and excavation works beneath and around Al-Aqsa mosque”… in March 2010, which ignores the rights to the sites mentioned as inherently part of Jewish heritage and makes totally fallacious accusations about Israel digging under the Temple Mount.
It goes on, and on, and on…
What is more, points out UN Watch, “The Council’s fixation with Israel is not limited to resolutions. Israel is the only country listed on the Council’s permanent agenda. Moreover, Israel is the only country subjected to an investigatory mandate that examines the actions of only one side, presumes those actions to be violations, and which is not subject to regular review.” (Emphasis added)
The vote on the resolution regarding a fact-finding mission on the settlements was 36 to 1, with 10 abstentions (including the EU countries of Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania, as well as Norway, Switzerland, Moldova and — I have conflicting information — either Cameroon or Guatemala). The US cast the single opposing vote.
When President Obama, who is an internationalist, decided to promote the US as a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, his argument was that more could be achieved by working from inside the council, where the US would have influence.
One would be hard put to see evidence of that influence when the resolutions of the council are examined. Nonetheless, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has just released a statement saying that the UNHRC has “helped spur action on a series of important human rights situations around the world, in part due to vigorous US engagement.”
What Nuland ignores, of course, is the excessive focus on Israel within the council, which detracts from time and attention needed for the real human rights crises in the world. One resolution on Iran compared to 39 on Israel? Where was the vigorous US engagement?
Nuland does say that the US condemns the UNHRC’s biased approach on Israel, which she said “continues to unnecessarily politicize the Council’s human rights agenda.” But obviously the US has insufficient leverage within the council to stop even as egregious a charge as that of Israel digging under the Temple Mount. (Or perhaps insufficient motivation to try.) And certainly hasn’t been able to change Israel’s status as the only country on the council’s permanent agenda.
What is more, the US does not deem the UNHCR’s biased approach on Israel to be sufficient cause for resigning from the council. Nuland’s statement was obviously designed to counter any such suggestion.
The negative US vote on the mission to investigate settlements was purely perfunctory in any event. Nuland made it clear that the US is opposed to the settlements — and, I would venture to say, spent no political capital campaigning again the resolution — but thinks negotiations are more productive than unilateralism.
Yet this latest travesty of justice by the council — a shameful act following the Goldstone Report, which Goldstone himself ultimately distanced himself from — is in the nature of the proverbial straw:
It is time for the US to depart from the council. To remain there is to add legitimacy to shameful proceedings that cannot be considered even remotely fair. While bolstering the council, US membership demeans the US.
Thus do I now appeal to all US citizens who agree with me to campaign for the US to resign from that UN Human Rights Council. Such a resignation would make an important statement and enhance the credibility of the US. Utilize information I have provided in this posting, perhaps including the Eye on the UN video.
Please, contact President Obama:
Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111
E-mail form via: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
And also your Congressional representatives:
For your Congresspersons:
For your Senators:
I will examine again, for the record, the right of Israel to the settlements, in a coming posting.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.