US Supports Israel at the UN

December 5, 2013

3 min read

UN Security Council

“I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided My land.” (Joel 4:2)

UN Security Council
The United Nations Security Council (Photo: Bernd Untiedt/Wikimedia Commons)

The UN Human Rights Council has long been abused to discredit Israel.  Now, Israel may be able to exert some influence on the international body.

On Monday, members of the Western Europe and Others Group in Geneva gave Israel a seat and a voice in the group, a move which will allow Israel to  “shape policy and determine leadership posts” on the Human Rights Council, according to US Ambassador Samantha Power.

“For far too long Israel has been unfairly excluded from regional bodies at the United Nations,” Power said in a statement. “This long-overdue decision brings Geneva in line with the decision to admit Israel into WEOG in New York in 2000, which continues to pay dividends more than a decade later.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the move “overdue,” just hours before he was scheduled to return to the Middle East to move peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians along.

“It goes without saying that at a time when the scourge of global anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is more important than ever for Israel to have a strong voice that can be heard everywhere,” he said in a statement. “This is a particularly welcome development as we work to end anti-Israel bias in the UN system.”

Kerry promised the US would “continue to support efforts to normalize Israel’s treatment across the UN system.”

The various regional bodies, of which the WEOG is one, act in an advisory capacity to the Human Rights Council, although they have no formal standing.  The US is a member of the council, while Israel still is not.

According to Haaretz, senior diplomats from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany and France sent a letter to the UN’s institutions in Geneva and to the ambassador of Spain, who heads the WEOG, asking that Israel be included in the regional body.

“We are strongly supportive of Israel’s membership at the earliest opportunity. We request that you kindly include this issue on the agenda of the next WEOG meeting in Geneva, to be held as soon as possible,” the letter, sent last month, read.

The group ultimately agreed to accept Israel in exchange for Israel’s return to the council to face its Universal Periodic Human Rights Review process.  Israel had left the council a year and a half ago to protest its alleged anti-Israel bias.

The American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David Harris, said the decision “ends the shameful anomaly whereby Israel was the only UN member state not fully integrated in the world body’s regional grouping system.”

Although this is an important move, drawing praise from Israel supporters across the board, it is likely not sufficient to sway the council’s anti-Israel attitude.

“At the council, Islamic states continue to hold the balance of power by controlling the African and Asian regional groups — which, taken together, form the Council majority. WEOG is vastly outnumbered at the council, and preposterous anti-Israel resolutions, and investigations and reports, will continue to flow like untreated water from a sewer,” human rights lawyer and pro-Israel activist Anne Bayefsky told the Times of Israel recently.

Still, this step in the right direction elicited much appreciation for those responsible for helping it along.  Israel’s UN Mission said on Twitter that “after decades of discrimination, a historical wrong has been corrected.

“Israel’s voice will finally be heard loud & clear in WEOG in Geneva.  Special thanks to @AmbassadorPower for leading efforts to right this wrong & standing on front lines to admit Israel into WEOG @unisgeneva.”

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