In first, Germany votes against anti-Israel measure at World Health Organization

In first, Germany votes against anti-Israel measure at World Health Organization

Israeli ambassador thanks Berlin for ‘significant and principled stand’; resolution blaming Israel for poor health conditions in Palestinian areas passes with overwhelming majority

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

The World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (CC BY-SA Thorkild Tylleskar/Wikipedia)
The World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (CC BY-SA Thorkild Tylleskar/Wikipedia)

Germany on Wednesday for the first time voted against an annual anti-Israel resolution passed in the World Health Organization, apparently making good on a recent promise to change Berlin’s voting pattern in international organizations in Jerusalem’s favor.

In previous years, Germany usually voted in favor of the text, which appears to blame Israel for the poor public health situation in the Palestinian territories. Last year, the country abstained.

Despite Germany’s “no” vote during Wednesday’s 72nd WHO Health Assembly in Switzerland, the largely symbolic resolution passed with an overwhelming majority, with 96 countries voting in favor, 11 against and 21 abstaining.

Joining Germany in opposing the text were the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Hungary.

The resolution, entitled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” does not mention Israel, but critics say it clearly criticizes the Jewish state.

“The UN reached new heights of absurdity by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals provide life-saving treatment to Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks,” UN Watch, a Geneva-based nonprofit organization said in a statement.

The World Jewish Congress condemned the WHO’s approval of what it called “a blatantly one-sided annual resolution accusing Israel of perpetuating a health crisis in the Palestinian territories.”

The WHO, which a specialized UN agency, has once again “demonstrated the pervasive double standards within the United Nations which single out Israel for condemnation while absolving the Palestinian authorities of any wrongdoing or responsibility in the territories under their control,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said.

Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Jeremy Issacharoff, celebrated Berlin’s rejection of the resolution.

“I would like to express our appreciation for Germany’s vote in the World Health Assembly in Geneva today against a politically motivated and one-sided resolution regarding the Palestinian issue,” he said in a statement.

“This is a significant and principled stand in line with the declaration by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on May 11 regarding Israel’s role in UN fora. We also thank Minister of Health Jens Spahn for his important support on this matter.”

Issacharoff was referring to a statement during which Germany said it was deeply troubled by anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and vowed to oppose “any unfair treatment” of the Jewish state in international fora.

In the statement, issued on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s accession to the UN, Berlin promised to stand “at Israel’s side in the UN, too.”

“Germany’s historic responsibility for the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and its security is part of our raison d’être. Germany will always work, including in the UN, to ensure that Israel’s right to exist is never called into question,” the English-language statement by Germany’s Foreign Office said.

File: Nickolay Mladenov, left, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, briefs the United Nations Security Council in a video conference, Monday November 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Berlin is “most concerned about the fact that, to this day, Israel continues to be criticized inappropriately, treated in a biased manner and marginalized in the bodies of the UN,” the statement went on.

The country, which currently is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, pledged “to oppose any unfair treatment of Israel in the UN and to support its legitimate interests. We will continue to do our utmost to support these causes,” according to the statement, which was based on a quote by Maas.

On Friday, the German parliament passed with a large majority a non-binding resolution condemning the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

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