Photo Credit: Pixabay
Symbol of the United Nations

{Originally posted to the Pressure Points blog of the CFC}

The UN Human Rights Council passed five more anti-Israel resolutions last week. This was not a great surprise, and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the Council “grossly biased against Israel.” She added that “our patience is not unlimited” and again threatened to leave the Council unless its obsession with Israel ended.


The Council (as Haley noted) passed three resolutions on Iran and two on North Korea, making the concentration on Israel particularly grotesque. Israel is the only country whose conduct must, by Council rules (the so-called Item 7), be reviewed every time the Council meets.

Still, the vote counting is interesting. One resolution called for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. That resolution got 25 votes, almost entirely from Muslim countries plus a few dictatorships like Cuba, Venezuela, and China. No European country voted yes. (Why Brazil, Peru, and Chile voted for it is a mystery, and when our State Department gets staffed up it might start pressuring them to change their votes.) Voting against this resolution were Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Panama, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States. Abstaining were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, and Switzerland. Absent was Mongolia. That means that of the members of the Council, 25 voted yes but 22 did not—displaying a good lack of enthusiasm for the proposal.

The other resolutions passed by higher margins: 27 in favor or 34 or 41, with 43 voting for “The Right of the Palestinian People to Self-Determination” while only Australia and the United States voted no (with the DRC abstaining and Mongolia absent).

That any democracy should vote for that mendacious resolution is unpardonable. Those who did include Belgium, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. It includes phrases and conclusions that are simply false, such as reference to Israel’s “forcible transfer of Palestinians”—something that does not exist. It calls upon Israel to “immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” which is absurd. As those governments must know, there is no way safely to do that (safely for Israel, Jordan, or the Palestinians, considering the possibility that Hamas, with Iranian support, would take over). Nor should any decent country be speaking of the “occupation” of East Jerusalem, as if Israeli control of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem were some kind of scandal and crime.

The resolution is also wrong in speaking of “millions of Palestinian refugees” who “have been uprooted from their homes.” People of Palestinian background who were born in Jordan and who are Jordanian citizens (there are well over a million) are not “refugees” and indeed no one with another citizenship can now be considered a refugee. In every other context, refugees would be defined as those who had left their homes and not gained other citizenship and been resettled elsewhere. But the Council does not, of course, pause to condemn the Arab states (starting with Lebanon) that unlike Jordan have always refused to grant citizenship to Palestinians living there for decades.

Hat’s off to Australia, which has just joined the Human Rights Council for a 3-year term and stood with the United States. The Australians have stated their “principled opposition” to singling out Israel, and said that they would vote against all the resolutions brought under “Item 7.” Australia has similarly opposed one-sided resolutions in the General Assembly. It is shameful that the Aussies have not been joined by other democracies, but they deserve great credit for taking this stance the moment they joined the Human Rights Council.


Previous articleCSU Chancellor, SFSU President, Condemn Hateful Post Targeting Jewish, Pro-Israel Students
Next articleSpeaking of Freedom
Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor under Pres. George W. Bush.