Israel announced Wednesday it is reducing its required payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent “anti-Israel” votes.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision to reduce the annual payment was taken following votes critical of Israel at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, and condemned the “obsessional discrimination against Israel on the part of the United Nations and its agencies.”
The General Assembly requires all 193 UN member states to pay a percentage of the United Nations’ regular budget, based on their GDP. According to the UN Secretariat, Israel is expected to pay about $11 million this year, or 0.43 percent of the regular budget.
Under Article 19 of the UN Charter, any country in arrears of its dues payments in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly. As of March 15, three countries were banned from voting because of arrears — Libya, Sudan and Venezuela.
Israel’s refusal to pay $2 million of its dues will put the country in arrears, but it won’t immediately lose its vote in the world body.
Nahshon said the money held back from the United Nations will be used for development projects in countries that support Israel in international organizations.
The highest percentage that a country can pay to the UN regular budget was cut from 25% to 22% in response to demands by the United States, the world organization’s largest contributor. It pays 22% of the $2.6 billion regular budget, with Japan second at about 9.7%.
The United States is seeking unspecified cuts in payments to the United Nations, especially for the 16 far-flung UN peacekeeping operations that are financed through a separate budget.
The Jewish state had already cut $6 million from its contribution of $11.7 million following a UN Security Council resolution passed in December condemning Israel’s settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Last week, a United Nations rights expert issued a blistering criticism of Israel’s policies, deepening a row over alleged anti-Israel bias within the UN following US pressure.
In a report, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, charged Israel with “the subjugation of (Palestinians’) humanity” and intensifying a crackdown on human rights campaigners.
Lynk made the claims in a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council during the Geneva-based body’s mandated session on Israel, known as Agenda Item Seven.
Israel is the only country targeted by the council with a dedicated agenda item.
Israel and the United States decry what they see as an entrenched UN bias against the Jewish state and an obsession with the Palestinian issue at the expense of other crises and human rights issues around the globe. But Israel is especially critical of the makeup of the Human Rights Council whose members include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Cuba.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has publicly threatened to withdraw from the council over its “biased agenda item against Israel.”