Diplomacy

All 100 Senators Call for End to Anti-Israel Bias at UN

All 100 members of the U.S. Senate signed a letter Thursday urging the United Nations to stop unfairly targeting Israel.

The senators noted that while the U.S. co-founded the UN “with the intention of saving future generations from war,” today many member states and agencies “are using the U.N.’s privileged platform to advance an anti-Israel agenda.”

“Although, as Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on many issues, we are united in our desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel and eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms,” they stressed.

The lawmakers praised UN Secretary-General António Guterres for insisting that the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), a body comprised of 18 Arab states, rescind a controversial anti-Israel report it issued last month. They specifically proposed four areas for UN reform regarding Israel:

• Eliminating or reforming U.N. Committees “which far too often serve no other purpose than to attack Israel

• Stopping the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from approving resolutions that “target Israel and deny the Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem. Such resolutions “undermine the credibility of the organization.”

• Insist that United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) stop “perpetuating anti-Israel bias and activities,” or face “significant consequences.”

• Reforming the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which instead of  “shining a light on gross human rights violations” is composed of “some of the world’s worst human rights violators,” and “devotes time to unwarranted attacks on Israel.” The letter quoted remarks made in March by U.S. Depute Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay, who told the council that its “obsession with Israel … is the largest threat to the Council’s credibility.”

Noting that the U.S. is both the UN’s “principal founding member and its largest contributor,” the senators urged Washington to “insist on reform.” The “continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities is unacceptable,” they stressed.

“If you continue to build on your recent actions, we stand ready to work with you to eliminate the organization’s anti-Israel bias and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms,” the lawmakers concluded.

Washington’s ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said February that the U.S. “will not turn a blind eye” to the UN’s anti-Israel bias. When she took over the presidency of the UN Security Council earlier this month, Haley told Fox News that the body had been bashing Israel “every single month for ten years.”

In addition to disavowing the ECOWAS report, Guterres on Sunday pledged to be “on the front lines in the fight against anti-Semitism” and acknowledged that “the modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.”

In line with the Senate letter, Guterres said in January that Israel should be treated as any other nation by the UN General Assembly, which adopted 20 resolutions against the Jewish state in 2016 and only six on the rest of the world combined.

In December, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged his organization’s bias against Israel, saying, “Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel.” Ban also criticized the UNHRC’s singular focus on Israel shortly after assuming his post in 2007, saying that he was “disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The Associated Press reported in June that Israel is the only country in the world that “has its record inspected at every single session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.” The AP added that one of the driving forces behind the UN’s focus on Israel is the influential Organization for Islamic Cooperation, which often spearheads the push for anti-Israel resolutions.

[Photo: Senator Chris Coons / Flickr ]