Geneva, July 5, 2006 – UN Watch condemned the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to single out Israel for denunciation in a special session to be held this afternoon. While recognizing the difficulties of Palestinians and the legitimacy of scrutinizing the actions of all governments, the Geneva-based monitoring group expressed deep concern over the imbalance in both the session’s agenda and its proposed resolution.
“It’s fixed,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “A guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. The Arab Group’s request for the session, as well as their proposed resolution, are entirely one-sided. Both speak only about alleged Israeli violations, while ignoring the Hamas government’s role, not only in the hostage-taking that precipitated the crisis, but in perpetrating deliberate attacks on civilians, such as last night’s firing of a rocket at a children’s school in the city of Ashkelon.” Palestinians have fired more than 500 Kassam missiles against civilian centers in Israel proper since it pulled out of Gaza 10 months ago. “Unlike the latest North Korean projectiles,” said Neuer, “these do not fall harmlessly in the sea, but murder and maim innocent Israeli civilians.”
UN Watch joined the international community in supporting Israel’s disengagement from Gaza last summer. Since the withdrawal, tragically, terror in Gaza has prospered. Weapons were imported, militants were trained, Kassam rockets were produced, and tunnels were dug. Sderot, the outskirts of Ashkelon, and other Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip periphery, were bombarded nearly every day. The Palestinians elected a terrorist organization to run their government, which—in defiance of the international community—openly calls for Israel’s destruction and celebrates terrorist attacks.
Yet these violations of international human rights and humanitarian law are omitted in the Arab Group’s request, and cannot be formally considered by the Council because the President and Bureau ruled yesterday that “[t]he special session shall only deal with the specific question for which it was convened. Therefore the only agenda item shall be the specific question.” (See here .)
Since the council was created on March 15, several months of preparatory sessions in Geneva were dominated by repeated demands of Arab and Muslim states for a special agenda item to censure Israel. Neuer applauded Canada, members of the EU, and other democracies for supporting the efforts of Council President Luis de Alba to nevertheless preserve a neutral agenda for the June session. “Supporters of a credible new Council recognized that a biased agenda would mark a return to the dark days of selectivity and politicization that killed the old commission,” said Neuer.
Regrettably, however, on the last day of its June session, the Council adopted a one-sided condemnation of Israel, introduced by the Islamic bloc, making the Jewish state the only country to be singled out for censure. The Friday decision, opposed by most democracies, now forces a permanent anti-Israel agenda item at every future Council meeting. A separate resolution singled out the Council’s rapporteur on Palestine as its only expert mandate with no year of expiry.
Prior to the June session UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a plea for the Council to preserve its credibility, saying, “I hope we are not going to see a situation where the Human Rights Council focuses on Israel, but not on the others.”
Neuer expressed regret that a majority of Council members are “showing contempt for Mr. Annan’s urgent plea to leave behind the discredited Commission’s self-destructive obsession with bashing Israel, at the expense of urgent human rights situations affecting millions of victims in Darfur, China, Chechnya, and in so many other regions across the globe.”
Similarly, other NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch, have separately called on the council “to avoid the selectivity that discredited its predecessor,” saying that “the council’s singling out the Occupied Palestinian Territories for special attention is a cause for concern.”