UN body said to bury positive report on Israel under Syrian pressure

World Health Organization passes anti-Israel resolution, ignores bombings of hospitals in Syria and Yemen

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)

The UN’s health agency buried a report praising Israel, under pressure from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, UN Watch said in a statement Friday.

The report on Israel’s cooperation with a WHO mission to the Golan heights “was not published, not even the parts which had already been completed,” the NGO said. It added that the World Health Organization not only failed to table the report praising Israel, but also then went on to adopt a blatantly anti-Israel resolution.

According to the Geneva-based organization, the UN agency adopted in its annual assembly a resolution co-sponsored by Syria that targeted Israel over “health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and 10 other countries took the floor to express regret over the resolution.

“This is clearly due to the Syrian behavior, which we can only condemn in the strongest terms,” representatives of the EU countries were quoted by UN Watch as saying.

Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva. (Photo courtesy of embassies.gov.il)
Ambassador Aviva Raz-Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN in Geneva. (Courtesy of embassies.gov.il)

Instead of “standing up to the brutal Syrian regime,” as tweeted by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Aviva Raz-Shechter, the WHO blamed its omissions on “time constraints” and the need for more information. According to representatives of European countries, these reasons were just excuses.

The text of the resolution was co-sponsored by Syria and the Palestinians, along with Algeria, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia and Venezuela. It omitted explicit language condemning Israel that was part of a similar resolution last year. UN Watch said this was done in a bid to garner EU support.

The vote to maintain the WHO spotlight on Israel for next year was 98 to 7, with 21 abstentions.

The UK changed its vote from last year, switching from “yes” to “no,” joining Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel and Togo in the opposition.
Those abstaining were Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, DR Congo, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Malawi, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, East Timor and Tuvalu.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “For the UN to allow Syria’s Assad regime to influence its focus on health conditions is absurd.”

“It is the height of cynicism for Syria to introduce a resolution on the health of Druze residents of the Golan Heights, who in fact live very well under Israeli jurisdiction, even as Assad bombs his own hospitals, ambulances and medical workers. The UN should reject the hijacking of its world health agenda by Arab regimes and allied dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela,” Neuer said.

“Notably, the UN assembly will not address Syrian hospitals being bombed by Syrian and Russian warplanes, or millions of Yemenis denied access to food and water by the Saudi-led bombings and blockade, nor will it pass a resolution on any other country in the world,” he added.

“The UN discredits itself by enacting a resolution which effectively accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, when in reality Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks.”

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