Israel supported a statement criticizing China at the UN Human Rights Council after being pressured to do so by the Biden administration, US and Israeli officials told Axios’ Barak Ravid on Tuesday.
This is a significant policy change from Israel's newly inaugurated government. Under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel refrained from voicing any criticism about human rights violations in China — pushing for closer ties with Beijing and resisting pressure from the Trump administration to limit Chinese investments in Israel.
The statement, which was signed by more than 40 countries, expressed "grave concern" about human rights violations by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and civilians in Hong Kong and Tibet.
The statement called on the Chinese government to allow UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet and other independent observers "immediate, meaningful and unfettered access" to Xinjiang.
According to Ravid’s report, several days ago, the US embassy in Israel issued a formal request to the Israeli foreign ministry asking it to support the statement against China. A similar request was passed by diplomats from the US mission to the UN in Geneva to their Israeli counterparts.
The Israeli foreign ministry debated the request and several officials raised concerns about backlash from Beijing, Israeli officials said. The issue was presented to foreign minister Yair Lapid who decided to accept the US request and support the statement.
Israeli officials hoped that the decision would not attract much attention, but Chinese officials pressed their Israeli counterparts not to support the statement and protested after the statement was published, according to Ravid.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Hayat confirmed Israel supported the statement but declined to give any further details.