UK will oppose UNHRC resolutions about Israel

The UK will oppose all Israel related resolutions at a session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva today.

The Foreign Secretary announced the move in an exclusive op-ed published in the Jewish Chronicle yesterday. Jeremy Hunt said the British Government will oppose all UNHRC resolutions related to human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza due to their “disproportionate and discriminatory” focus on Israel.

Under the UNHRC’s Item 7, the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is a permanent agenda item, meaning no meeting can take place without a specific discussion of the subject. Hunt wrote that this item serves to: “Undermine the credibility of the world’s leading human rights forum”. No other country has such a permanent agenda item.

Hunt said Britain would oppose all Item 7 resolutions at the 40th session of the 47-member council today. He said: “Two years ago, the United Kingdom said that unless the situation changed, we would vote against all texts proposed under Item 7. 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.”

It is the first time the UK has taken such a stand and Denmark, Australia and Austria may take a similar positions.

The resolutions proposed today are calling for an arms embargo against Israel, Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and an “accountability” resolution which approves the UNHRC creation of a secret dossier on Israelis it believes committed war crimes in Gaza.

The Gaza dossier was produced by the UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry, which prepared a 252-page report on the Gaza border violence last year. The report, along with the secret dossier, has been handed to UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet with instructions to transfer the information to the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

Yesterday the Israel Government said: “An initial review of the report gives rise to serious concerns about the factual and legal analysis conducted by the Commission, its methodologies and the clear evidence of political bias against Israel. Many of these deficiencies were already clear in the initial report in February 2019. While Israel is still conducting an in depth review of the report.”

The Danish Foreign Minister tweeted: “It is fundamentally wrong that Israel is the only country in the world that has an entire agenda item dedicated to it in the UN Human Rights Council. Denmark will vote NO to all resolutions under #HRC Item 7”.  Austria’s Ambassador to Israel tweeted that his country will vote against the “Accountability Resolution”.

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