Netanyahu lambastes ‘hypocritical’ UN rights panel

In weekly cabinet meeting, PM rips into Human Rights Council for obsessing over Israel and ignoring slaughter in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 30, 2014. (Danny Meron/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 30, 2014. (Danny Meron/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday upbraided the UN rights agency for singling out Israel while ignoring the human rights abuses and outright “slaughter” taking place elsewhere in the Middle East.

Speaking in the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the UN Human Rights Council, which voted in a series of five resolutions condemning Israel over the weekend, was hypocritical in its “absurd” focus on Israel.

“Over the weekend, the UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel five times, this at a time when the slaughter in Syria is continuing, innocent people are being hung in the Middle East and human rights are being eroded,” Netanyahu said.

“In many countries free media are being shut down and the UN Human Rights Council decides to condemn Israel for closing off a balcony,” he said, echoing previous speeches in which he denounced the international community for criticizing Israel for settlement construction while allowing executions, lack of freedoms and other human rights violations to be perpetuated in the Middle East.

“This is absurd,” the prime minister said. “This march of hypocrisy is continuing and we will continue to condemn it and expose it.”

On Friday, five UNHRC resolutions condemning Israel met with widespread support among most voting members of the Geneva-based body. Also that day, the council decided to delay a controversial vote on 18 special rapporteurs, among them a new Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine – a position soon to be vacated by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus with a long track record of vehemently anti-Israel rhetoric.

Reports Thursday said UK academic Christine Chinkin, had emerged as the nominee for the Palestine position.

Christine Chinkin (photo credit: Courtesy)
Christine Chinkin (photo credit: Courtesy)

However, in Geneva, debate and negotiations continued regarding the nominee for the position.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki welcomed the council votes.

“The resolutions reaffirm the primacy of human rights of the Palestinian people and the obligations of all States to promote and protect human rights,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“This vote confirms the world’s clear condemnation of the systematic human rights violations committed by Israel, the occupying power, against the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights,” he added.

In December, the UNHRC invited Israel to join its Western European countries group and Israel accepted.

UN members are divided into five regional groups that try to craft common policy positions and elect countries and individuals to UN bodies.

Joining a group does not guarantee Israel will become a council member, but nonetheless gives it more sway than it has out in the cold.

Although geographically the Jewish state is in Asia, hostile Arab and Muslim states have blocked it from joining the Asian group.

In January 2012, Israel became the first country to refuse to attend a periodic review of its human rights record, and two months later it cut all ties with UNHRC after the Geneva-based council said it would probe how settlements may be infringing on Palestinian rights. It later submitted to the review.

Israel has accused the UNHRC of routinely singling it out at its annual meetings, as well as passing a number of anti-Israel resolutions.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.

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