Diplomacy

In Major Breakthrough, Britain, Denmark Announce Opposition to Anti-Israel Resolutions at UNHRC

The British and Danish governments announced Thursday that they will oppose every United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) measure on alleged Israeli violation of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza under discriminatory Agenda Item 7.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in an op-ed published in the Jewish Chronicle that, “Two years ago, the United Kingdom said that unless the situation changed, we would vote against all texts proposed under Item 7.”

Hunt stressed: “Sadly, our concerns have not been heeded. So I have decided that we will do exactly what we said: Britain will now oppose every Item 7 resolution. On Friday we will vote against all four texts proposed in this way.”

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced similar measures Thursday, saying “Denmark will vote NO to all resolutions under #HRC Item 7.” The minister observed in a tweet that “It is fundamentally wrong that Israel as the only country in the world has an entire agenda item dedicated to it in the UN Human Rights Council.” He called Denmark’s opposition to the resolutions a matter “of principle.”

Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule, is exclusively devoted to discussing alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is the only country in the UNHRC with a dedicated council item.

The UNHRC is currently meeting in Geneva for its 40th session, in which member states will be voting on five anti-Israel resolutions, four of which fall under Agenda Item 7. The council is set to debate, among other issues, the results of an investigation which found that Israeli troops may have committed crimes in their response to weekly Hamas-orchestrated riots at the Israeli-Gaza border last year.

The United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell denounced the council’s “singular, obsessive focus” on the Jewish State in a speech he gave Monday in Geneva. Legal experts also slammed the UNHRC for its one-sided, biased investigation.

“Instead of promoting reconciliation and compromise, Item 7 strengthens the hard and trampled road of self-righteousness, a narrative that one side alone holds a monopoly of fault,” Hunt wrote in the Jewish Chronicle. “A lasting peace would require the parties to acknowledge the wrong and harm committed by every side, requiring painful compromise by all.”

The foreign secretary announced further that Britain “will continue to press for the abolition of Item 7, which only undermines the credibility of the world’s leading human rights forum.”

Opposition to anti-Israel measures in the UNHRC has been growing. On Thursday, Austrian Ambassador to Israel, Martin Weiss, tweeted that his country will vote against the “Accountability Resolution” at the UNHRC. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a gathering of the AJC Jewish advocacy group in Brussels that “this resolution is politically biased against Israel,” Weiss said.

In February, Australia and Denmark slammed the UNHRC for singling out Israel when they spoke at the opening session of the council. The two nations urged the UNHRC to drop Agenda Item 7.

In response to Hunt’s announcement, TIP CEO & President Joshua S. Block issued the following statement: “The Israel Project extends its deepest gratitude to the United Kingdom for opposing the institutionalized discrimination of Agenda Item 7, where Israel is denied equal treatment under the law.

“Over the years, the UNHRC has come to be known as an arena for bashing Israel, misrepresenting Israel, and jeopardizing the security of Israeli civilians through bias and feckless policies. Agenda Item 7 doesn’t just single out Israel for scrutiny. It effectively prejudges Israel as guilty in any confrontation with the Palestinians, while absolving the Palestinian leadership of any responsibility in the conflict.

“This is not a recipe for stability and it is certainly not the path to peace. We urge other European Union nations to follow in the UK’s lead and oppose contentious Agenda Item 7.”

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also applauded Hunt and urged other countries to follow the UK’s lead.

“All supporters of human rights should applaud this move, which could in time lead to the UN ceasing to be discredited through its overt partisanship and becoming trusted once again as the arbiter of universal human rights that we all want it to be,” she said in a statement. “We call on other states who genuinely support the advancement of human rights to follow the UK’s moral stand.”

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]