THE US State Department announced yesterday that it would boycott the United Nations human rights council’s entire discussion about Israeli rights abuses and vote against any resolutions that come out of it.
“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN human rights council’s agenda item seven: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” said acting spokesman Mark Toner.
This item, which was scheduled for discussion last night, is a permanent fixture requiring the council to discuss three times each year abuses of human rights committed by Israel against Palestinians.
“Today’s actions in the council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel,” he said.
“No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the council. It does not serve the interests of the council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter.”
Mr Toner added that Washington would “vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.”
Earlier, Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on Palestinian territories held by Israel since 1967, warned that the “illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace” this year.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas phoned former UN undersecretary Rima Khalaf on Sunday to inform her that she would receive the Palestine Medal of the Highest Honour in recognition of her “courage and support” for the Palestinian people.
Ms Khalaf was forced to resign on Friday after refusing to accede to demands by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres that she withdraw her report on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
The document concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that systematically institutionalises racial oppression and domination of the Palestinian people as a whole.”
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Mr Abbas had “stressed to Dr Khalaf that our people appreciate her humanitarian and national position.”
Mr Guterres’s office said that the report had been published without any prior consultations and did not reflect his views.
He rejected it and ordered its removal from UN websites.