In first, EU states vote against permanent anti-Israel item at UN rights council
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In first, EU states vote against permanent anti-Israel item at UN rights council

European countries, together with Japan and Brazil, take a stand against item 7, the only permanent item on the agenda singling out any one nation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is seen on a TV screen while speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is seen on a TV screen while speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

JTA — In a major policy reversal by Western members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, all its European Union member states voted against a permanent item singling out Israel.

The vote Friday was the first time that EU members states, Brazil and Japan voted against Item 7 — a recurrent draft resolution that is the only permanent item on the agenda singling out any one nation. The draft resolution passed despite the Western opposition to it, with 26 in favor and 16 in opposition, including Australia and several other nations.

Whereas European nations have in recent years by and large abstained in votes on Item 7 at Human Rights Council sessions, all of this year have taken a joint decision to vote against the item, citing its “imbalance,” as the representative of Bulgaria said in a statement representing the bloc as a whole.

Five nations on the council abstained in the vote Friday.

It was also the first time that Brazil voted against Item 7, which it has tended to support.

The Palestinian representative told the Council: ‘If you protect Israel, it will destroy you all.” He also said Israel’s character as a Jewish state is “shameless racism.”

In an earlier vote, all EU countries on the Council except the United Kingdom voted against adopting a UN report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza. The British delegate abstained along with India and Iceland, two nations who in the past have voted in favor of critical resolution singling out Israel. Ukraine, Brazil and Australia were among the eight countries that voted against the resolution, which passed thanks to a majority of 23 yes votes and 15 abstentions. Israel dismissed the report as factually incorrect and displaying “clear evidence of political bias ” against it.

Palestinians burn tires and hurl rocks during a demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 22, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Last year, the United States pulled out of the Human Rights Council. Nikki Haley, then US envoy to the UN, called the Council a “cesspool of political bias.”

Item 7 comprises four resolutions. One of them states the Council is “deeply concerned at the suffering of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan due to the systematic and continuous violation of their fundamental and human rights by Israel since the Israeli military occupation of 1967.” It does not mention the wholesale slaughter of Syrians by their government and other forces involved in fighting in Syria.

Another “calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” It does not mention Palestinian terrorism.

The third expresses “grave concern at the continuing violations of international humanitarian law and the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power.”

The fourth, titled, “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” does mention terrorism, but only by “extremist Israelis.”

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