The UK has joined the US in condemning an alleged anti-Israel bias at the UN, pledging to vote against issues on Palestine brought by the Human Rights Council.
Foreign Minister Boris Johnson yesterday urged the council to reform its treatment of Israel, objecting to the permanent Agenda Item 7 which deals with Israeli abuses in the Palestinian territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Whilst some European states and Australia have also criticised Item 7 in the past, the Trump administration has raised the prospect of the US withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Last week, US diplomats told reporters on condition of anonymity that it appeared more a matter of when, not if, the pull out threatened last year by the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, will happen. With some believing it could happen as early as this week.
“As we have said numerous times, the UN Human Rights Council must be reformed to ensure it has the ability to realise its important mission,” the US State Department said on Friday.
The US has already pledged to leave the UN’s cultural arm UNESCO in protest of its recent resolutions recognising Palestinian heritage that they deemed “anti-Semitic”. Israel subsequently announced it would follow suit, having cut funding to the organisation on multiple occasions, after the agency voted in favour of the Palestinians.
Israel has also attempted to change its image at the international forum, with Israeli envoy Danny Danon hosting some 40 UN representatives, a fifth of all ambassadors, in the country for Independence Day in April. Taking the envoys on a tour of occupied East Jerusalem and settlements close to the Gaza border, Israel hopes to change the negative perception of the country and garner more favourable votes at the UN by presenting the “history of Jewish connection” to the sites.
Last month, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling for the establishment of an observer mission in Gaza later, after near unanimous condemnation of Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters from national representatives.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected the decision, claiming in a statement that the council’s decision proved once again that it was “a body with an automatic majority hostile to Israel dominated by hypocrisy and absurdity.”