US and Israel to punish 'biased' UN human-rights council

US and Israel to punish 'biased' UN human-rights council
3 min read
03 March, 2017
Allies float the idea of the US leaving the UNHRC ahead of the council's publication of a database listing companies currently in business with Israeli settlements.
The UNHRC is compiling a database of companies in business with Israeli settlements [Anadolu]

Israel and the United States have held serious discussions about a joint approach to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has come down hard on Israel for its human rights violations.

The allies' talks come in anticipation of the publication of the UNHRC's new database, which will list companies engaging in business with West Bank settlements or Israeli entities in East Jerusalem.

In response to the database, which Israel has dubbed the "blacklist," and other perceived acts of bias against Israel, the Trump administration has indicated that it may pull out of the council.

"As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the council's actions with an eye to reform, to more fully achieve the council's missions to protect and promote human rights," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay said in a statement to the 47-member UN body on Wednesday.

A US exit from the council would be aimed at pressuring the council to reconsider its position and would be greeted by Israel's rightwing government.

On Thursday, Israel's Army Radio published a transcript of a closed-door Likud ministerial meeting that was held after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's February 14 meeting with President Donald Trump. In the recording, the Israeli leader indicated that he floated the idea of the US leaving the UNHRC with US officials.

"During the trip I raised the question of whether the United States should remain in the Human Rights Council," Army Radio quoted Netanyahu as saying.

When Likud MK Anat Berko suggested that it may be more useful for the US to remain in the body, Army radio quoted Netanyahu as saying, "It's better to leave! These organisation must be delegitimised".
A US exit from the council would be aimed at pressuring the council to reconsider its position and would be greeted by Israel's rightwing government.
The database, which was initially due to be published in time for the 34th UNHRC session in March, has been postponed to allow more time for research.

The Obama administration, which was heavily criticised by Israel's government for allegedly failing to provide support, stated its intention to boycott the list. The government of his predecessor, George W. Bush, boycotted the UNHRC altogether.

Since the creation of the the UNHRC in 2016, Israel has been on the receiving end of over 50 percent of resolutions criticising countries.

The UN body, however, is not the only international body that has recently criticised Israel for its continued settlement activity.

In a similar move, the EU recently published guidelines on labelling products coming out of the illegal Israeli settlements, much to the dismay of Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu who feared it may lead to effective boycotting.

Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 and later annexed Jerusalem, in a move considered illegal under international law.

Since the occupation, over 400,000 Jewish settlers moved into illegal settlements protected by the Israeli forces across the West Bank where 2.5 million Palestinians live.

Israeli forces destroyed at least 450 Palestinian homes since the start of 2016 as the Zionist state continues to build illegal settlements despite international condemnation.