A bipartisan group of 42 members of Congress called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to defund the recently established United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Israel.
The lawmakers noted that the commission, which is under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is an unprecedented, open-ended biased permanent investigation into Israel’s actions towards the Palestinian Arabs, alleging war crimes and human rights violations, without any mention of terrorism committed by Hamas or acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself.
Describing the commission as “outrageous and unjust” and part of the UNHRC’s “disproportionate focus on Israel,” the group said that it appreciated the Biden administration’s “multiple clear statements of opposition to the COI, including its December 24 vote to entirely defund the COI.”
“We urge the US to lead an effort to end the outrageous and unjust permanent Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was created by the UNHRC in May 2021,” the members said in a letter to Blinken this week that was sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). “This commission will not only focus on the actions Israel took in Gaza as it sought to defend its citizens from unprovoked rocket attacks. It will also have a carte blanche mandate – in perpetuity – to investigate any allegations against Israel in the past or in the future whether in the West Bank or Gaza or in all of Jerusalem, and even within the recognized pre-1967 borders of the State of Israel.”
They described COI’s mandate as designed to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by accelerating “political, economic, and legal challenges” and “pressuring international legal institutions to take action against Israeli leaders.”
“Shockingly, the COI resolution makes no mention of the terror group Hamas – which initiated the conflict by launching missile attacks on Israel – and does not include any mention of Israel’s right to defend itself,” they wrote.
“This COI is outrageous and ought to be cancelled. With the UN budget in crisis, stretched by the COVID pandemic which affects all humanity, it is irresponsible to spend precious resources on yet another unjustified UN investigation of Israel."
Noting that the UN already has six other bodies that unfairly single out Israel, they said that “the number of such bodies unfairly targeting Israel should be decreased to zero, not increased adding a COI.”
“There are no commissions of inquiry on the mass genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang or specific mandates toward Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist group,” they added. “The UNHRC should be using its resources to fulfill its mission of promoting human rights around the world – not singling out a country that was attacked by more than 4,000 rockets aimed indiscriminately at civilian populations.”
The letter went on to say that the fact that the COI is “ongoing” while UNHRC investigative commissions for Burundi, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen have to be renewed on an annual or biannual basis “reflects the UNHRC’s continued broader bias against Israel.”
The lawmakers urged Blinken to “use the United States’ good offices to lead the effort to eliminate the biased COI in the United States, and urge defunding of the Commission through the Appropriations process in Congress.”
“Please know that while Congress may be divided on the administration’s decision to rejoin the UNHRC, we stand united in urging you to act upon the administration’s commitment to defend Israel from discriminatory treatment at the Human Rights Council and throughout the UN system,” they said.