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The 64th UN General Assembly: Issues to Watch RULE Treatment of Israel at the UN

Posted: September 21, 2009

Israel-Palestinian Relations
Treatment of Israel at the UN
Other UN Issues

For decades Israel's treatment at the UN has been characterized by ostracism, double standards, and knee-jerk condemnations.  This must change.

  • The harsh findings and recommendations of the Goldstone Report must be rejected by responsible U.N. members states.  This fundamentally biased report with its outrageous and overreaching panoply of recommendations and calls for every imaginable punitive action possible by the United Nations is emblematic of the misappropriated focus of U.N. attention and resources on just the action of one state to defend its people from attack by a terrorist organization.  The report reveals bias in its presentation of the facts, its negative assumptions about Israel, Israeli society and its democratic system.
  • The United Nations apparatus is perpetuating unfair and biased criticism and allegations of war crimes against Israel.  After the Gaza Operation many in the international community were quick to place blame without properly assessing and judging the complex issues which the war involved.   U.N. officials and reports -  most recently the Goldstone Report -  did not examine the conflict from Israel's perspective, nor acknowledge the great lengths the Israel Defense Forces went to ensure that it complied with International Law. Israel had every right to take action to quell Hamas according to international law that and those who claim differently are denying Israel's right to self-defense – a right granted to every other country in the world and upheld in Article 51 of the UN Charter.  During its operations in Gaza the IDF did everything possible to try and ensure that its actions were within the bounds of international law. Indeed, the IDF had legal advisors accessible to the commanders at all times and were able to consult with them while on the ground.
  • Twenty-plus redundant and incendiary anti-Israel resolutions are passed blindly, year after year. Six of ten "emergency sessions" held by the UN General Assembly since its inception have concerned Israel – while none have been held in response to events in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, or Sudan. Responsible members of the General Assembly must end this annual anti-Israel ritual. 
  • There is a complete "Palestinian infrastructure" within the United Nations focused specifically on an anti-Israel agenda. No other country or entity have such exclusively dedicated departments and committees.  The most egregious is the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable of the Palestinian people (CEIRPP).  These committees not only waste stretched UN resources (their annual budget is $2.5 million), but propagate wildly biased programs and information about the Palestinian-Israel conflict that ignore positive progress in the region, and contradict the UN Secretary General and Security Council positions on Israel.  Malta, Cyprus, Ukraine and Bulgaria are still members of CEIRPP.  Romania formally left the committee.  These committees must be disbanded.
  • The U.N. Human Rights Council, which replaced the Commission on Human Rights in March 2006, has been no better than its hopelessly ineffective predecessor, with Israel remaining the most consistent target for unjustified vilification and demonization. Responsible members of the Council must work to remove the Israel-specific agenda item from the permanent HRC agenda.  (Item #7, titled: "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories: Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories and the Right to self-determination of the Palestinian people).  Israel is the only country in the world to appear on the HRC's permanent agenda, while countries such as China and Sudan, notorious for their human rights abuses, are included as part of the general debate. Members of the HRC must also move expeditiously to review the mandate of the Special Rapporteur "on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," which is inherently biased against Israel.  In its current form, the Special Rapporteur's mandate is focused solely on Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  This mandate must be revised to ensure a more balanced approach, and include the examination of  Palestinian actions and policies in this region. Furthermore, efforts must be made to ensure the impartiality of the Special Rapporteur.  The current office-holder, Richard Falk, is a notorious critic of Israel, who has compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazis treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.   Professor Falk, who is barely into the second year of his six-year term, has been a quick, strident and extreme critic of Israel in a manner that is inappropriate for an ostensibly impartial U.N. official.
  • Israel must be allowed to join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in Geneva.  Israel, unlike other member nations, is prevented from fully participating in the UN system since it is barred by Arab countries from joining the Asian Regional Group, and only has partial status in the WEOG group.  There is no justification for the inability of Israel to serve on the Human Rights Council or to participate in other UN-Geneva based programs.  The US should prioritize ensuring full Israeli participation in WEOG beyond New York, to Geneva, and throughout the UN system.

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