The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) held a session on Wednesday singling out Israel, which was condemned in speeches by several countries including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Turkey, Lebanon, and Cuba, for allegedly violating the health rights of the non-Jewish population in the Golan Heights.
By a vote of 77 to 14, with 36 abstentions, the WHO assembly adopted a resolution submitted by the Palestinian Authority and Syrian delegations, requiring the WHO to hold the same debate at next year’s assembly, and to prepare another report on the “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by countries such as Cuba, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent non-governmental organization that monitors the UN, condemned the “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health priorities.”
“Out of 28 items on the current world health assembly’s agenda,” said Neuer, “only one focused on a specific country—Israel.”
“There was no agenda item or resolution on any other country, conflict, civil war or political impasse. Nothing on Russia, which is responsible for more than 100 attacks on Ukrainian medical infrastructure as verified by the WHO; nothing on Syria, where hospitals and other medical infrastructure are deliberately bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; nothing on Afghanistan where the Taliban takeover has led to a collapse in basic health systems; and nothing on Ethiopia where more than five million people in Tigray are in dire need of humanitarian support, including health care, due to the conflict there,” said Neuer.
Syria, which last year was elected by consensus to the WHO executive board, accused Israel of the “deliberate and systematic bombing of hospitals, healthcare facilities and personnel.” Syria said the agenda item targeting Israel would remain on the agenda “as long as the occupation remains and until the virus is eradicated and the symptoms disappear.”
Iran’s delegate claimed that “as the moral force behind the Zionist movement is a sense of exceptionalism, racism and superiority, it can expand only by provoking and promoting wars and conflicts. The Israeli regime is, therefore, a destabilizing force by nature as per its genesis and the force that sustains it is an indelible not incidental feature of Zionism.”
Neuer condemned the inflammatory remarks and said that the “assault on Israel at the WHO by some of the world’s most oppressive regimes promoted the lie that Israel is harming Palestinian health rights. The opposite is true.”
“The regimes who today attacked the Jewish state were projecting: the more oppressive they are to their own people and to their minorities, the more they resort to trying to demonize the only democracy in the Middle East,” he charged.
UN Watch applauded the Netherlands and Austria for shifting their votes from Abstain last year to No this year. Those that voted No like last year were the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Israel.
“However, the minority of EU member states and other democracies who voted for the absurd resolution should be ashamed, including France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, India, Ireland, New Zealand and Luxembourg,” said Neuer.
“These countries have now encouraged the continued hijacking of the world’s health priorities, and the diversion of precious time, money, and resources to fight global disease, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel,” he warned.
“Anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that they provide world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs as well as to Syrians fleeing Assad,” Neuer added.
By passing the resolution, the assembly also adopted a WHO report which claims that fatalities and injuries in the Gaza Strip were “the result of occupation-related violence in 2021,” despite Israel having withdrawn from Gaza in 2005. The report claimed the majority of these fatalities and injuries occurring “during the military escalation” of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations were not mentioned.
The WHO report likewise fails to acknowledge legitimate Israeli security concerns when it calls on Israel to “end the arbitrary delay” of permits for Palestinian patients and the movement of ambulances and health care staff at checkpoints.