Politics & Government

US remains in Israel’s corner at UN human rights session

The United States signaled no change in its support for Israel at the United Nations on Monday, refusing to take part in a forum on alleged Israeli human rights violations.

Despite the Obama administration’s pledge to rethink its support for Israel at the United Nations in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign rejection of a Palestinian state, the United States’ refusal to discuss alleged Israeli abuses at the U.N. Human Rights Council was consistent with the previous U.S. position.

Other major Western countries, including Great Britain, France and Germany, also refused to participate in the discussion.

Keith Harper, the U.S. ambassador to the council, reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel in explaining why the U.S. would not participate in the discussion of the agenda item.

“Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year, when we also refrained from speaking,” Harper said. “The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it.”

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry had told the council that the U.S. objected to what he called “an unbalanced focus” on Israel.

“No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it,” Kerry said when he appeared before the council March 2.

Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told McClatchy that the U.S. position “was a mistake.”

“I hope the Americans will move in a different way when the question of self-determination – which is an American idea – comes up,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s representative said the U.S. boycott of the session “gave the green light for Israel – the occupying power – to continue to commit crimes.”

Iran and Pakistan also spoke against Israel. Iran’s ambassador, Mohsen Naziri Asl, spoke on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement, while Pakistan took the floor on behalf of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.