Haley: Human Rights Council nations back Israel — but only behind closed doors

After announcing withdrawal from UN body, US ambassador calls it ‘an organization unworthy of its name’ in scathing op-ed

US Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley speaks at the US Department of State in Washington DC on June 19, 2018. (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
US Ambassador to the United Nation Nikki Haley speaks at the US Department of State in Washington DC on June 19, 2018. (AFP Photo/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

WASHINGTON — In a cutting op-ed published Tuesday night, the US envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, excoriated the UN’s Human Rights Council for including repressive regimes and blocking investigations of human rights violations around the world. She also said that a wide range of countries talk about supporting Israel — but only in private settings.

The op-ed by the former South Carolina governor was published the The Wall Street Journal shortly after the Trump administration announced it would withdraw from  the global body, citing, among other things, its “chronic bias against Israel.” It laid out more of the reasons for Washington’s departure from what she called “an organization unworthy of its name.”

The member nations’ intense focus on Israeli actions — coupled with its failure to address other countries’ malfeasance — was chief among them.

“In the past decade, this organization has passed more resolutions to condemn Israel specifically than to condemn Syria, Iran and North Korea combined,” Haley wrote.

That narrow focus on the Jewish state, she added, was reflected in the council’s refusal to eliminate its Agenda Item 7 (“the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”), which, she said, “targets Israel unfairly by mandating that each session include a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Haley explained that the Trump administration was angered by the body blocking efforts to put pressure on despotic regimes that harm civilian populations. “They obstruct investigations and reports, while interfering with the council’s ability to name and shame the perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities,” she said of the council.

Yet another reason, which she said was “even more frustrating,” was that many of the HRC’s member nations are open to siding with Israel, but will only say that when cameras aren’t present. They also vote against Israel in resolution after resolution, she said.

“Many countries agree with the US about shunning human-rights violators and supporting Israel—but only behind closed doors,” Haley said.

“Despite numerous overtures, these countries were unwilling to join the US in a public stand,” she added. “Some even told us they were fine with the council’s flaws, as long as it let them address their pet issues. This is not a moral compromise we are willing to make. The UK has promised to oppose any resolution targeting Israel under Agenda Item 7, and we support that stance. We wish other countries would do the same.”

Hours earlier, Haley, along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced the US withdrawal. The two officials said Washington would be “happy to rejoin” if the council made meaningful changes.

Haley warned the UN a year ago that the US would leave the body if certain reforms were not carried out. But on Tuesday, she used even starker language.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said.

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