Just days after the United States assailed the United Nations Human Rights Council for its anti-Israel bias, the United Kingdom took a similar path and issued an ultimatum to the international body: the anti-Israel bias must change, or else. “Today we are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” said a statement last Friday from the British Mission to the UN in Geneva and posted on the UK government website. “If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories.”
Earlier in their comments, the British explained that while they still support the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and voted yes on that resolution, they opposed other resolutions because of their one-sided approach. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he thanked British Prime Minister Theresa May for this approach and, in comments from his office on Sunday, called upon others to take a similar tact.
Calling the UK speech at the Human Rights Council “important,” Netanyahu went on to say, “I think that this is an important sign that we would like to encourage the international community to follow. We think that the time has come to begin changing the distorted attitude toward Israel in international bodies.”
The British explained that the lack of mention of terrorism in the resolutions addressing accountability and settlements is why they voted against those. “Neither ‘terrorism’ nor ‘incitement’ were a focus of this week’s Council discussions and resolutions. This is not acceptable,” said the British statement.
But perhaps the UK’s biggest concern dealt with the overall UN Human Rights Council’s approach to Israel. As one example, the UK noted that the Jewish state is barely 1 percent of the world’s population, yet has nonetheless been hit with more than half of the Council’s country-specific resolutions. Said the UK Mission, “Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither.”
Another egregious example of bias highlighted by the UK as “absurd” is the focus on Israel in the Golan Heights resolution addressing Syria and that Israel has been a permanent fixture addressed by the Human Rights Council since 2007. The vicious Syrian regime is not given such attention.
“Syria’s regime butchers and murders its people on a daily basis. But it is not Syria that is a permanent standing item on the Council’s agenda; it is Israel,” said the UK, which while opposing Israel’s control of the Golan nonetheless said that “we cannot accept the perverse message sent out by a Syria Golan resolution that singles out Israel, as [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] continues to slaughter the Syrian people.”
Israel acquired the Golan Heights from Syria in the defensive 1967 war, which has made Israel more secure but has nonetheless been opposed by the UK.
Yet in the end, the British, like the Americans earlier that week, underscored that the bias against Israel undermines the very purpose of the UN Human Rights Council and actually makes Israel-Palestinian peace even less likely. Said the UK Mission to Geneva, “For as long as the Human Rights Council continues down this disproportionate and biased path, it will make the achievement of a negotiated two-state solution harder not easier.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 26, 2017)