WHO Singles Out Israel as Violator of Health Rights

GENEVA, May 31, 2023 — The annual meeting of the UN’s World Health Organization, which wrapped up yesterday, singled out Israel for condemnation, while electing North Korea to a leadership role.

Deviating from its focus on public health emergencies, the 76th World Health Assembly held a special debate on May 24th  to single out Israel, which was condemned by Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba, for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and the Druze population in the Golan Heights.

By a vote of 76 to 13, with 35 abstentions, the WHO assembly adopted a resolution submitted by the Syrian and Palestinian delegations requiring the WHO to hold the same debate at next year’s meeting, and to prepare another report on the “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Co-sponsors of the resolution included Syria, Libya, Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen. No other country received a special agenda item at the WHO assembly.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, an independent non-governmental organization that monitors the UN, condemned the “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on urgent health priorities affecting hundreds of millions around the globe.”

WHO Singles Out Israel, Ignores Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia

“Out of 25 items on the current world health assembly’s agenda,” said Neuer, “only one focused on a specific country — Israel.”

“There has been no agenda item or resolution adopted on any other country, conflict, civil war or political impasse. Nothing on Syria, where hospitals and other medical infrastructure are deliberately bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; nothing on Afghanistan where the Taliban takeover has led to a collapse in basic health systems; and nothing on Ethiopia where more than 5 million people in Tigray are in dire need of humanitarian support, including health care, due to the conflict there,” said Neuer.

Session Falsely Accused Israel of Violating Palestinian & Syrian Health Rights

Syria, which two years ago was elected by consensus to the WHO executive board,  accused Israel of  “continuing to attack the Palestinian people under the nose of the international community.”

Russia condemned the “the one-sided activities of Israel that are supported by the United States including the continuing illegal activities in the Gaza strip, the reassigning of the populations, and the ruining of buildings and homes.”

North Korea, which was just elected to a 3-year term on on the WHO executive board, said it was “deeply concerned about the health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The prolonged occupation, illegal settlement activity, and discriminatory practices continue to negatively impact the living conditions of the population.”

Venezuela expressed support for “the Palestinian people and their legitimate cause to seek self-determination and their legitimate right to access health services and medications which is constantly blocked by Israel.”

Neuer condemned the inflammatory remarks. “Today’s assault on Israel at the WHO by some of the world’s most oppressive regimes promoted the lie that Israel is harming Palestinian health rights,” said Neuer. “The opposite is true.”

“The regimes who attacked the Jewish state were projecting: the more oppressive they are to their own people and to their minorities, the more they resort to trying to demonize the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Biased Resolution Heavily Backed by Dictatorships and Minority of EU

The vote was 76 to 13 in favor of the resolution, with 35 abstentions and 56 absent.

Neuer commended Italy and Fiji for changing their votes from Abstain to No, as well as those nations that continued to vote in opposition as they did last year, including the US, UK, Australia, Austria, Cameroon, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands.

“However, the minority of EU member states and other democracies who voted for the absurd resolution should be ashamed, including France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, India, Ireland, New Zealand and Luxembourg.”

“These countries have now encouraged the continued hijacking of the world’s health priorities, and the diversion of precious time, money, and resources to fight global disease, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel.”

“Anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that they provide world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs as well as to Syrians fleeing Assad,” Neuer added.

Resolution Mandates Renewed Report & Debate on Israel

Last week’s resolution mandates the WHO director-general to prepare another report next year, to be submitted to the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024, thereby ensuring another day devoted to vitriolic accusations against Israel by Iran, Syria, Venezuela and others.

Unlike similar reports from the last two years, this year’s report did not rehash long-debunked claims of alleged Israeli “discrimination” in access to COVID-19 vaccines.

But as with previous reports, Palestinians fatalities in violent confrontations with Israelis are described as “the result of occupation-related violence,” a curious formulation that obfuscates the reality of a bitter conflict between two parties.

No mention is made that the overwhelming majority of Palestinian casualties in this violence are combatants or terrorists killed while carrying out attacks, though the report does mention that the overwhelming majority are adult males.

The number of Israelis killed is noted in passing, with no mention being made that the majority of them were noncombatants killed in Palestinian terror attacks.

Palestinian casualties in Gaza are also counted as “occupation-related violence,” despite Israel having withdrawn entirely from Gaza 18 years ago. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are nowhere mentioned.

The WHO report likewise fails to acknowledge legitimate Israeli security concerns when it calls on Israel to “end the arbitrary delay” of permits for Palestinian patients and the movement of ambulances and health care staff at checkpoints.

The WHO report makes repeated references to Israel’s West Bank barrier and  security checkpoints as well as the Gaza blockade, but never notes the deadly Palestinian terrorism which has made such barriers and the Gaza restrictions a necessity in the first place.

UN Watch