The UN Human Rights Council’s focus on Israel is “disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace,” Britain’s top diplomat said in remarks at a gathering of the Geneva-based body on Monday.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went on to announce that, “unless things change,” his country would “move next year to vote against all resolutions introduced under Item 7” — the permanent agenda spot dedicated by the 47-member UNHRC to the “human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”
Johnson’s speech came amid new reports the US was on the verge of withdrawing from the UNHRC, which is now holding a three-week session through July 6.
Last year, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said her country might pull out of the UNHRC unless its “chronic anti-Israel bias” was eliminated.
Israel’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, thanked Johnson later on Monday via Twitter, saying the “biased attitude” of the UNHRC “hinders its legitimacy to tackle human rights around the world.”
In New York, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told The Algemeiner, “It has long been clear that the Human Rights Council is the antithesis of an organization that cares for human rights. If there is any hope for UN institutions to serve the international community, then the member-states must hold all its organization and agencies accountable and put an end to the ongoing anti-Israel bias that has existed for far too long.”
In a statement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews praised Johnson’s “bold, clear and important intervention at the UN Human Rights Council.”
Johnson’s “commitment that the UK will vote against all resolutions in 2019 tabled under the infamous Item 7, which singles out Israel as the only country in the world to have its own agenda item, is an important victory for human rights,” Sheila Gewolb — senior vice president of the BoD — said. “Human rights are universal and should be applied universally and not in such a nakedly biased way. The UN Human Rights Council is undermined by politicization and the singling out of Israel in its standing agenda and the UK has shown the way to giving this potentially crucial body much greater weight and standing.”