Sunday, 20 Jun 2021 - 10 of Tammuz, 5781

Israeli leaders react with disdain to UN Rights Council decision to launch an inquiry into Israel’s actions during ‘Operation Guardian of the Walls’ against Hamas.

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The UK opposed the motion alongside Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshal Islands and Uruguay. All the other European member states abstained.

The UNHRC is viewed from Israel as an extremely biased, anti-Israel body. The council includes a permanent agenda (Item 7) that monitors, ‘the Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories’. This ensures that every quarterly session includes a condemnation of Israel. No other single issue, conflict or country has its own permanent agenda item.

“The world turned upside down. Instead of hearing the free world speak out clearly against terror organization Hamas and its leaders, clear examples of war criminals, the UN Human Rights Council makes an inexplicable decision against Israeli citizens who faced the criminal fire of thousands of missiles against innocent civilians.’’

This comment from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin came after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva decided to launch an inquiry into Israel’s actions during ‘’Operation Guardian of the Walls’’ against Hamas.

‘’Even after these mistaken and unacceptable decisions, Israel will continue to be committed – always and before everything else – to the security of its citizens and ensuring their safety,” Rivlin added.

The investigation will focus on the Israel Defense Forces’ campaign in Gaza, as well as the clashes in Jerusalem, inside Israel and the West Bank.

For the first time the Council called for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” into Israel’s actions.

Twenty-four countries supported the resolution and nine opposed it, with fourteen abstentions. Among the supporters were Russia, China and Bahrain, a Gulf country who last year signed the Abraham Accords with Israel.

The UK opposed the motion alongside Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, Malawi, Marshal Islands and Uruguay. All the other European member states abstained.

The British Ambassador to the UNHRC, Simon Manley, said he “unequivocally condemned indiscriminate attacks by Hamas and other militant groups on Israel. We are clear that Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “shameful,” adding: “Once again, an immoral automatic majority at the Council whitewashes a genocidal terrorist organisation that deliberately targets Israeli civilians while turning Gaza’s civilians into human shields. This while depicting as the ‘guilty party’ a democracy acting legitimately to protect its citizens from thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks. This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide.”

Defence Minister Benny Gantz concurred, saying, “The UN Human Rights Council’s decision draws its basic legitimacy into question. There has never been an army that has overseen such a complex military operation with so little damage to the uninvolved, while facing an enemy that turned homes, medical clinics and the streets of Gaza into fighting grounds. There is no doubt: the leaders of Hamas are shameful war criminals with blood on their hands, and every peace-loving country should seek to stop them.”

The UNHRC is viewed from Israel as an extremely biased, anti-Israel body. The council includes a permanent agenda (Item 7) that monitors, ‘the Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories’. This ensures that every quarterly session includes a condemnation of Israel. No other single issue, conflict or country has its own permanent agenda item.

The Trump administration withdraw from the council and cut its funding because of its blatantly anti-Israel position, however the Biden Administration brought them back in, currently as an observer.

Upon re-entering, Secretary of State Blinken acknowledged that the UNHRC “is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel,” but argued, that by returning the US will be able to exert a positive influence.

The council has a built-in bias against Israel, with much of its membership drawn from African and Asia-Pacific, many of whom vote as a bloc as part of the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC).

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