The Reuters news agency reported the absence of the United States at a scheduled United Nations Human Rights Council debate came as part of President Barack Obama’s “reassessment” of Israel at the international forum. The report, which flashed around the world on the news agency’s international wire network, made headlines in Middle Eastern and other nations whose time zones are six or more hours ahead of the U.S.
However, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the report is patently false.
In fact, the absence of the United States from the forum was indeed a deliberate act indeed, but one coordinated in advance with Israel to protest Agenda Item 7. Israel had asked its friends in the Council not to appear during debate of the Agenda Item, in order to boycott the issue.
A U.S. spokesperson in Geneva confirmed the reason for the delegate’s absence to Israeli officials, who reassured inquiring media.
Both the U.S. and Israel were boycotting the debate, which focusedon ‘Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories.’
The UNHRC has passed a mandate to use Agenda Item 7 at every session to debate this specific topic.
For hours, Middle Eastern Arab and African nations ranted on the Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Algeria even accused Israel of genocide.
Although the members of the European Union attended the session, the EU delegates did take the floor to defend Israel during the Agenda Item 7 debate, insisting it should be treated as other nations, and its violations discussed under Agenda Item 4.
Not one other country is deliberately singled out for mandated censure at each and every session of the UN Human Rights Council – including Saudi Arabia, which still allows slavery and beheads criminals, nor Iran, which indulges in public whippings and hangings, nor Sudan, where torture is commonplace, and the list goes on.
In a speech to the Council in Geneva at the start of this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused the UNHRC of obsessions with claims of Israeli violations.
“We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just at the UN Human Rights Council, but wherever it occurs,” Kerry vowed.
“It must be said that the UNHRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization. It has the potential to limit the good that we have to do,” he added.
Kerry’s well-intended promise may have been forgotten, at least in the White House, however: President Barack Obama is doing everything possible to yank the rug out from under Jerusalem, using rhetoric by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his election campaign as the excuse to claim a lack of commitment to peace by Israel.
“We take him at his word when he said [creation of a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region,” Obama told The Huffington Post last Friday.
Gone were the assurances Obama himself made in a speech to AIPAC during his own political campaign for president in 2008. That was when he vowed to commit, as president of the United States, to “help committed (peace) partners avoid stalemate and the kind of vacuums that are filled by violence.” Any agreement with the Palestinian people, he said, “must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” he promised.Hana Levi Julian