US Defended, Did Not Abandon Israel at UNHRC

US Ambassador to the UNHRC clarifies: the US is silent every year during commission's annual anti-Israel debate - as a form of protest.

Tova Dvorin,

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks durin
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks durin
AFP/File

The US's silence during the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)'s annual debate on violations committed in the Palestinian territories was not a form of backlash against Israel, contrary to a Reuters report released earlier Monday. It was a show of support. 

"Today the United States, in support of Israel, made no statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council debate on alleged Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, otherwise known as Item 7," Keith Harper, U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, stated Monday. US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro shared the quote on his Facebook page. 

"Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking," he continued. "The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it."

"The United States’ approach to the Human Rights Council’s Item 7 has not changed," Harper said. "We remain deeply troubled, by this Council’s stand-alone agenda item directed against Israel, and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item. No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it."

Harper emphasized that initial stories claiming the move was due to a breakdown in US-Israel relations were wrong. 

"As was the case last year, the United States will not engage in the debate," he said. "Neither will Israel. Instead, we will call a vote, and vote no on Item 7 resolutions."

"After which, the United States will make a statement explaining our consistent approach in opposition to Item 7," he concluded. 

In Israel, the Foreign Ministry said that the annual debate "negatively singles out Israel and Israel every year asks its friends on the council not to express themselves." 

Earlier Monday, a US spokesman told the news agency that Washington would remain silent during the debate, a comment Reuters attributed to escalating tensions between Israel and the US. 

Speculation over the move heightened after Israel's representative also did not take part in the session, causing rumors of a boycott. 

A source close to the UNHRC council said the absence amounted to a boycott, although a spokeswoman with the Israeli mission in Geneva told AFP "we won't comment on that."




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