Israel accuses UN of pro-Palestinian bias at anti-BDS gathering

Israel accuses UN of pro-Palestinian bias at anti-BDS gathering
3 min read
30 March, 2017
Israel has been angered by recent UN criticism of its continued settlement building and treatment of Palestinians, has cut UN funding, and found a new ally in the White House
A recent UN report accused Israel of "the subjugation of [Palestinians’] humanity" [AFP]

Israel hosted a summit at the United Nation General Assembly on Wednesday in protest at the Palestinian-led "Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions" (BDS) movement in the midst of growing tension between the Jewish state and the global intergovernmental organisation.

The event was organised by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Dannon who claimed that the UN was being "infiltrated by the BDS movement" while accusing the global movement which aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law of "anti-semitism".

"The UN's Human Rights Council is creating a blacklist of companies and corporations operating in parts of Israel. This is pure antisemitism and together with the US, our greatest ally, we will keep fighting until BDS is eliminated," said Dannon.

Frosty relations between the UN and Israel

Israel has been angered by recent UN reports critical of the Jewish state's practice with regards to Palestinians and the continued building of settlements.

One report, released earlier this month, and compiled by the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) accused Israel of practicing "apartheid" and of being a "racist state".

The controversial report was consequently withdrawn, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres notably distancing himself from its findings. The head of ESCWA Rima Khalaf consequently resigned, claiming that she was pressured to withdraw the critical report.

However, in a later report delivered at a UN Human Rights Council meeting focused on Israel, Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, accused Israel of "the subjugation of [Palestinians’] humanity" and launching intensified crackdowns on human rights campaigners.

A new ally in the White House

That accusation evoked the ire of the Trump administration - seen as considerably more pro-Israeli than the White House under former president Barack Obama - leading Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to threaten that the US would withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, accusing it of having a "biased agenda" against Israel.

Following suit, long-term ally the UK, has also said that it would vote against all resolutions concerning Israel's conduct in the occupied Palestinian territories until the human rights council ended its perceived anti-Israel bias.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley joined Dannon at the anti-BDS event on Wednesday, expressing her support for its aims. Speaking colloquially during proceedings Haley said that the Trump administration had "Israel’s back", calling for sanctions against the Jewish state to be dropped.

"Know that the United States has Israel’s back, and know that you now have a fighter and a friend in the UN to help you," said Haley, addressing an audience of more than 2,000 pro-Israel activists, students and representatives of various Jewish organisations such as the World Jewish Congress, the Zionist Organization of America, Israel Bonds, Stand- WithUs, and B’nai B’rith International.

"We should boycott North Korea, we should sanction Iran, we should divest from Syria, not Israel. It makes absolutely no sense and it has no connection to any reasonable definition of justice."

Funding cuts

In a further development, and amid brewing hostilities, Israel said on Wednesday that it would cut its financial contribution to the UN this year by $2 million citing "hostile resolutions" adopted by its Human Rights Council.

Israel previously cut $6 million in funding in protest at a December UN Security Council resolution that demanded Israel stop settlement building in the West Bank, and on land that Palestinians view as crucial to a future independent state.

The Obama administration notably abstained from voting at that time, enabling the motion to pass, in a move deemed "shameful" by Jewish officials.