GENEVA, May 22, 2019 — The annual assembly of the UN’s World Health Organization today voted 96 to 11 for a resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab bloc and the Palestinian delegation, that singled out Israel over “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
While the majority of delegations voted in favor of the biased resolution, several leading democracies condemned today’s vote at the annual Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) targeting Israel (see videos below).
For the full press release, click here.
Germany at the WHO: Thank you Mr. Chairman. The WHA deals with a specific health agenda. Its decisions should, therefore, be focused on health issues, be technical and result oriented. We should not allow its agenda to be politicized. As recently stated on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s admission to the United Nations, it is Germany’s long-standing position that UN organizations or bodies, dealing with rather technical matters, should not be politicized. Focusing on one country-specific situation on the WHA agenda only, while not addressing the health conditions in other parts of the region or the world, contributes to this politicization.
Germany, therefore, regrets that the stand-alone agenda item 14 has not been moved to a relevant technical agenda item of the WHA. We will continue to support the proposal for such a shift, as we did at the meeting of the Executive Board of the WHO in January. Furthermore, we regret that despite the efforts made by the European Union, it was not possible to find a compromise. Germany acknowledges that the health situation of the population in the Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza, remains extremely difficult and further improvement is absolutely necessary. Germany fully supports the WHO in providing support and technical assistance to the population in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
Also, for many years, Germany has been one of the biggest financial contributors to UNRWA. The report on health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan, is in our view a valuable orientation to help improve the health conditions of the people concerned. Given the fact that efforts to shift the agenda item to a relevant technical agenda item of the WHA have not been successful, Germany in this specific case decided to vote ‘No’. In view of further decisions within the WHA, Germany calls upon both Israelis and Palestinians to work constructively with each other and with the WHO in order to reach a common way forward. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
US at the WHO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. The United States believes the draft decision on Item 14 fails to meet our shared objective of the World Health Assembly, focused purely on public health. One that refrains from singling out countries on a political basis. As we have made clear, neither this assembly, nor any assembly in the future, should accept a standing item that singles out one country for criticism and ill-will year after year. Furthermore, this decision if passed will fall short in its attempt to improve the health of Palestinians. The United States cannot let this decision pass without objection. We oppose its adoption and support Israel’s call for a vote. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Brazil at the WHO: Thank you, Mr. President. Brazil takes note of the report contained in document A/72/33. We acknowledge the health-related challenges in the occupied territories. We are willing to keep our constructive engagement. Brazil considers that WHO’s Constitution confers upon WHO a comprehensive mandate to follow the situation of health in any region of the world, in light of technical criteria in the objective reality on the ground. In Brazil’s view, WHO must prioritize health-related issues, in conformity with the organization’s mandates. For this reason, Brazil was not in a position to support the decision proposed. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Canada at the WHO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Canada is concerned about the continued inclusion of this standalone political agenda item in the World Health Assembly, a technical body that should avoid politicization and focus on improving global health outcomes. Canada remains supportive of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, negotiated directly between the parties. Canada advocates a fair-minded approach and rejects one-sided resolutions and any politicization of the issues. This decision does not advance the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to which we aspire.
We maintain that the World Health Assembly is not the forum for these discussions. Canada supports the World Health Organization’s role in providing support for health system strengthening and needed medical assistance to the Palestinian people, especially to children, girls and women who are disproportionately affected by inadequate health care services and access to medicines. However, we remain concerned that this decision is still unduly politicized. For this reason, Canada is not able to support this decision as drafted. Thank you.