US Threatens to Exit Human Rights Council in Protest Against Scrutiny of Israel
June 5, 2018
The US has intensified its threat of leaving the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in response to European countries refusing to accept its proposal that Israel’s human rights violations not be discussed regularly by the Council. Earlier this month, the US representative to the UN for social and economic affairs, Kelley Currie, held two meetings with a number of western governments, where she presented a "draft General Assembly resolution that would eliminate a special category of rights violations — known as Agenda Item 7 — committed in occupied Palestinian territories," Foreign Policy reported. Under Agenda Item 7, Israel’s human rights record is discussed in every session of the UNHRC.
However, key European allies refused to agree, claiming that such a move would prevent probes into human rights violations in other countries. Following this, citing a European diplomat, Foreign Policy reported that the US now seems “to be headed for a exit.”
The US has been attempting for several years to relieve Israel from the special scrutiny. Last year, the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivered an ultimatum to the UNHRC that the US would consider pulling out of the Council if it does not address its its “chronic anti-Israel” bias, which, she alleged, taints its “credibility”.
The UNHRC had strongly condemned the use of force by Israel during Great Return March. “It is difficult to see how tire-burning or stone-throwing, or even Molotov-cocktails thrown from a significant distance at heavily protected security forces in defensive positions can be seen to constitute such threat” as to warrant live firing, killing protesters in such large numbers, the Council said.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner, addressing the council on May 18, said, “Israel as an occupying power under international law, is obligated to protect the population of Gaza and ensure their welfare. But they are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanized by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”
Calling for an investigation, he noted that most of those killed and injured were unarmed and had been shot in the back, in the chest and head and limbs with live ammunition. 29 countries in UNHRC voted in favor of investigation, 14 abstained. Only the US and Australia opposed the call for investigation. Since then, US has intensified its effort to ensure the human rights violations by Israel are not are discussed by the international body.
First published in The Dawn News.
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