Liberman urges US to cut ties with Israel-bashing UN bodies
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Liberman urges US to cut ties with Israel-bashing UN bodies

In Washington, defense minister asks secretary of state to reconsider support for UNRWA and UNHRC, which 'demonize Israel'

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday asked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to reconsider American support for the United Nations agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, as well as for the UN Human Rights Council.

During a meeting at the State Department, Liberman urged Tillerson to consider quitting the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and to stop funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA.

The agencies do not fulfill their mission, he told the secretary, according to readout of the meeting issued by Liberman’s office. “Instead, the Human Rights Council deals with demonizing Israel and with efforts to harm it by distorting reality.”

He said it was unacceptable that 60 percent of the council’s resolutions targeted Israel instead of dealing with the dire human rights situation in Iran or North Korea or Syria.

Last week, the US envoy to the Human Rights Council, Erin Barclay, criticized the council for its outsize focus on Israel.

“Regrettably, too many of the actions of this council do not support these universal principles. Indeed, they contradict them,” she said.

“No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item… The obsession with Israel… is the largest threat to this council’s credibility,” added Barclay, a career diplomat. “It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel.”

Israel has claimed that almost all the Gazan employees of UNRWA are members of the Hamas terrorist group.

US envoy Erin Barclay addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council March 1, 2017 (Screen capture: UNHRC)
US envoy Erin Barclay addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council March 1, 2017 (Screen capture: UNHRC)

On Tuesday it was reported that an employee of the body, Muhammad al-Jamassi, was elected to Hamas’s political bureau, the top governing body of the terrorist organization the rules the Strip.

Jamassi has held various positions within Hamas since 2007, including in the group’s public relations department and its affiliated charities, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

He currently serves as board chairman for the UNRWA engineering department in central Gaza, and oversees all off the agency’s infrastructure projects in the area.

Another UNRWA employee, Suhail al-Hindi, a teacher heading the agency’s employee union in Gaza, was suspended by the organization after he was elected to a top leadership position in Hamas.

Liberman, who met with Vice President Pence on Tuesday, was set to meet with Congressman and National Security Adviser H.R. Macmaster later on Wednesday.

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