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UAE, Bahrain, Sudan join huge majority backing anti-Israel moves at UN panel

Jerusalem’s new ambassador to Turtle Bay, Gilad Erdan, promises not to ‘allow business as usual anymore’; new Arab normalization partners vote with Europeans on annual resolutions

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

Haiti's Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters, September 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
Haiti's Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters, September 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

A committee at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday passed with overwhelming majorities a series of resolutions critical of Israel, lambasting the Jewish state, among other things, for ostensible human rights violations against Palestinians and “repressive measures” against Syrians in the Golan Heights.

The three Arab countries with which Jerusalem recently signed normalization agreements — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan — did not change their traditional voting pattern and supported all resolutions critical of Israel.

The motions are passed annually by the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, with minor adjustments, and ratified by member states in December. Nearly all European countries, including staunch allies of Israel such as Germany and the Czech Republic, traditionally support most of these resolutions.

Israel’s new ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, participated in the debate that took place before the vote, making an impassioned but ultimately unsuccessful plea for countries to reject the motions.

UAE delegates wave to the departing El Al plane at the end of the Israel-UAE normalization talks, with the US, in Abu Dhabi, September 1, 2020. (El Al spokesperson’s office)

“What is the point of these resolutions? Just to pave the way for future resolutions?” he asked. “By supporting these resolutions you are not only wasting UN resources, you are also sabotaging any chances of future peace.”

Erdan also took aim at UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

“One of the biggest reasons for the UN’s failure in ending the conflict is its continued support of UNRWA,” he said. “Simply put, UNRWA’s very existence makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unsolvable, and I don’t intend to allow business as usual anymore.”

The resolution in support of UNRWA passed with 153 yes votes. Only two countries — Israel and the US — voted against, and 12 countries abstained.

A Palestinian woman attends a demonstration outside the outside UNRWA’s Headquarters in Gaza City, August 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Erdan also noted angrily that one of the resolutions passed annually referred to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic name, Haram al-Sharif. Using only one term for Judaism’s holiest site was an “audacious attempt to rewrite history” and erase the centuries-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem, he said.

“As minister of public security, I ensured that all religions had access to Jerusalem’s holy sites,” he said. “During my term, the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount each year more than tripled. No resolution passed here will stop that process. No resolution passed here will change the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the holiest site of our faith, Har Habayit, the Temple Mount.”

The resolution he was referring to, entitled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” was adopted by a majority of 138–9, with 16 abstentions.

A resolution decrying Israel’s “repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan” passed 142–2, with 19 abstentions.

Israeli army forces seen stationed near the border between Israel and Lebanon in the Golan Heights on July 27, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

UN Watch, a Geneva-based nonprofit monitoring the world body’s alleged anti-Israel bias, released a long statement decrying the resolutions passed Wednesday.

“The UN’s assault on Israel with a torrent of one-sided resolutions is surreal,” said Hillel Neuer, the group’s executive director.

“Just two weeks after the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group assaulted Israeli civilians with a barrage of rockets from Gaza — while the UN’s General Assembly and Human Rights Council stayed silent — the world body now adds insult to injury by adopting seven lopsided resolutions, whose only purpose is to demonize the Jewish state.”

“While France, Germany, Sweden and other EU states are expected to support most of the estimated 20 resolutions to be adopted against Israel by December, the same European nations have failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries,” said Neuer.

“Where’s their supposed concern for international law and human rights?”

In a press release, UN Watch argued that countries like Germany and the Netherlands, which supported the resolutions, broke their recent promises to oppose anti-Israel bias at the UN.

“Last year, after 155 German MPs called on the German government to oppose ‘politically motivated initiatives and alliances of anti-Israeli Member States’ in the UN, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called out UN bias against Israel and committed to oppose ‘any attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel,’ in UN bodies,” the statement read.

“Likewise, after the Dutch parliament resolved to ‘actively oppose UN organizations that devote disproportional attention to Israel,’ the Dutch foreign minister declared last year that the Netherlands would ‘make an active effort to combat disproportionate attention’ on Israel at the UN. Yet both countries today largely went along with the ritual singling out of the Jewish state, as did most other EU states.”

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