World Health Organization WHA 73rd Session, Committee B, 12 November 2020, Remarks by Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations & International Organizations in Geneva
Thank you, Moderator.
Director General, Member States, Excellencies:
What are we really talking about here?
A decision that politicizes the WHO and allows it to be misused. A decision that shifts the focus of the agenda of the World Health Assembly from global health challenges to a political attack. A decision that does not reflect the reality on the ground.
Let me be clear: It is not a decision that has an interest to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. It is not a decision that will affect the assistance program to the Palestinian people, nor does it depend on it. The reality is that Israel supports the work of the WHO to assist and promote the Palestinian health system for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Dear Colleagues: We are in the midst of a global pandemic, with almost 1.3 Million lives lost around the world. There are many emerging health challenges. These should be the focus of the agenda — not politics.
Let me tell you what is really happening on the ground. Understanding that pandemics know no borders, Israel has strengthened its cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in order to prevent, mitigate and address the spread of the virus in the region. The ongoing cooperation includes consultations, training and information sharing, cooperation with Palestinian medical teams, and delivery of COVID-19-related PPE. (Personal Protective Equipment for coronavirus)
As you well know, this cooperation also extends to Palestinians being treated in Israeli hospitals on a daily basis. This is the reality. And it is vital we all stand up to the misuse of this forum and the politicization of an, otherwise, UN professional agency.
Let us turn now to Syria, who is also behind this decision.
This is a regime that uses chemical weapons on its own citizens, a regime that deliberately targets and destroys health centers, threatens WHO staff and prevents first aid care to be delivered. This is the reality and many of you know it.
Three years ago, WHO experts underwent a field assessment in the Golan Heights and drafted a 16-pages report on the health conditions in this region.
It clearly states that -and I quote: “There were no significant barriers for residents to access primary, secondary or tertiary care, even for the most vulnerable members of the community.”
As you know, this report was never published. But I have it with me, and I will be happy to share it with any of you.
As you will see in the report, any person living in the Israeli Golan Heights has the same access to the same quality health care, as the people living in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem- regardless of their religion or faith. Simple as that.
I can only wish that Syrian people living in Idlib and Aleppo will have access to similar health services.
Astonishingly, the report was never published due to pressure from Syria on the WHO secretariat.
It is too bad the secretariat caved in.
Excellencies, dear colleagues: What I am asking of you today is not to give a hand to the distortion and abuse of this forum. We object to this decision and call for a vote. We will vote NO and I call others to vote with us.