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European powers back anti-Israel resolution at UN Human Rights Council

France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy join majority in support of UNHRC motion criticizing the Jewish state; Bahrain absent from vote

Illustrative: Delegates arrive on the assembly hall of the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi)
Illustrative: Delegates arrive on the assembly hall of the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi)

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday passed a resolution critical of Israel with an overwhelming majority, with France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy all supporting the motion.

The text featured 19 paragraphs criticizing Israel’s policies, with only one referring to rockets fired at the Jewish state, a UN watchdog said. It was adopted by a vote of 22 to 6, with 8 abstentions.

UN Watch, a Geneva-based nonprofit monitoring the world body’s alleged anti-Israel bias, released a statement decrying the resolution passed Tuesday.

“The fact that this resolution was literally written by the Palestinians, with co-sponsors that include Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic states as well as Venezuela’s Maduro regime, is clear from the text’s pervasive condemnation of Israeli actions, with no mention whatsoever of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Palestinian Authority,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch.

Bahrain, a Gulf nation that had recently established ties with Israel, was absent from the vote. The countries that voted against the motion were Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Malawi and Togo.

Additionally, the watchdog noted that India shifted from a “yes” vote last year to abstaining on Tuesday.

Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Korea and Uruguay also voted in support of the resolution, which expressed “grave concern at reports of serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The resolution also denounced Israel’s “preferential treatment” for settlers in the West Bank over Palestinians.

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch (photo credit: Michal Fattal/Flash 90)
Hillel Neuer (Michal Fattal/Flash 90)

“If the resolution were truly about Palestinian human rights, it would not have completely ignored Palestinian Authority abuses, including arbitrary killings, torture and arbitrary detention,” Neuer said.

Israel has heavily criticized the rights council over the years, saying it focuses disproportionately on the Jewish state while ignoring abuses by autocratic regimes and governments — and even accepting them as members.

A permanent element of the council’s agenda is Item 7 (“the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”), which since its adoption in 2007 has singled out Israel for perpetual censure, a measure that no other country faces at the UN body.

Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the council in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Under the new Biden administration, the US announced it would return to the council, but stressed that it was “flawed and needs reform.”

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