US boycotts United Nations human rights session on Israel

March 20, 2017 10:30 pm

State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner speaks during a briefing on March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The US has boycotted a United Nations Human Rights Council session focusing on Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinians due to the inter-governmental body’s “bias” against Israel.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington boycotted Monday’s UNHRC session over the council’s focus on Israel’s human rights record during the council’s Item Seven General Debates.
“As an expression of our deeply held conviction that this bias must be addressed in order for the council to realize its legitimate purpose, the decided not to attend the council’s Item Seven General Debate session,” Toner said in a statement.
strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven: ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” he added.
Agenda Item Seven is a permanent fixture that requires the UNHRC to discuss three times each year any human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinians.
“Today’s actions in the council are yet another reminder of that body’s longstanding bias against Israel,” he said. “No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the council. It does not serve the interests of the council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter.”
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the United States will end its participation in the UNHRC unless the agency undergoes “considerable reform.”
Trump is considering withdrawing the United States from the council, which the new administration accuses of being biased against Israel.
The United States is currently an elected member of the 47-state UNHRC, where its three-year term ends in 2019.
Earlier Monday, the UN’s special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories warned that Israel’s “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.
Michael Lynk pointed to announcements by Israel to build 6,000 new housing units in Palestinian territories, accompanied by “high rates of demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”
He accused Israel of “the subjugation of [Palestinians’] humanity”, and also cited a UN Security Council resolution in December that called the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Moreover, a UN report published last week accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The study, which has been authored by Richard Falk, a former UN human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University, said the “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian people” was the main method through which Israel imposes apartheid.
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