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UN Human Rights Council presents four resolutions against Israel, only one against Russia

Israel calls UNHRC an "echo chamber of hatred;" United States seeks to suspend Russia as a member of the council

U.N. Human Rights Council special session on “the deteriorating human-rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” May 2018. (Photo: Elma Okic/UN)

The United Nations Human Rights Council wrapped up its main annual session with four anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian resolutions. Israel was the only country the UNHRC censured multiple times. 

By way of comparison, countries like Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea were censured for human rights abuses only one time each and there were no resolutions approved against Cuba, Venezuela, China, Qatar and others.  

The resolution against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine passed 32-2, with 13 abstentions. Russia is a UNHRC member, but on Monday U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, announced that the U.S., Ukraine and other European allies intend to seek Russia’s suspension from the council.

“As President [Joe] Biden, Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken, and I have said, we believe members of the Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. And we believe Russia must be held accountable... We cannot let a member state that is subverting every principle we hold dear to continue to sit on the UN Human Rights Council,” said Thomas-Greenfield. 

Russia was one of the UNHRC members that voted in favor of a resolution that called for a limited arms embargo against Israel. It was approved by the council in a 37-3 vote, with seven abstentions by Cameron, Honduras, India, the Marshall Islands, Nepal, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The three countries that supported Israel were: Brazil, Malawi, and the United States. Under the Biden administration, the U.S. rejoined the council as a voting member this year after President Trump withdrew from it in protest of its frequent criticism of Israel. 

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Michele Taylor said that the Biden administration was “disappointed that [UNHRC] member States continue to disproportionately single out Israel and are dismayed by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions that run year after year.”

All European Union countries on the council supported the text, including France and Germany.

It reads: “All states to refrain from transferring arms when... they assess that there is a clear risk that such arms might be used to commit or facilitate serious violations or abuses of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar, who serves as Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, said the council was an “echo chamber of fantasy and hatred against Israel.”

“The problem with this echo chamber is that no reality comes in but certainly the hatred seeps out,” she added.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi praised the resolution’s approval, saying it “should ensure justice and should hold to account all those who violate international humanitarian law and… to provide reparation and compensation to the [Palestinian] loved one of the victims.”

The other three resolutions were voted on under Agenda Item 7, a permanent item that mandates the UNHRC to debate alleged Israeli human rights violations at each session. No such requirement is leveled against any other of the UN’s 193 member states.

In recent years, Israel and the United States have invested efforts unsuccessfully to abolish agenda Item 7. This year, they highlighted the absurdity in it since the vote took place on “April Fool’s Day.” 

The UNHRC has recently appointed Italian legal expert Francesca Albanese to the post of Special Rapporteur about the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories. Israel has denounced the appointment, noting that in the past she compared the Palestinian Nakba to the Holocaust in World War II. 

The term nakba means catastrophe in Arabic and is used to describe the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and the consequences of the war that ensued with the invasion of five Arab nations to the formerly British-mandate territory. 

Albanese often refers to Israel as an apartheid state, according to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.  

“Holocaust inversion is a recurring theme for @FranceskAlb, who endorsed her husband Massimiliano Calì's post equating Palestinians with Jews resisting the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto,” Neuer wrote on Twitter. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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