By Dr. Theresa Newell
This week saw a flurry of Israel issues surface at the United Nations in New York.
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, UNITED WITH ISRAEL group reported the following:
The secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) on Friday rejected a report, authored by UN officials, that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime,” prompting the resignation of the head of the agency that authored it. The resignation was by UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf of Lebanon who has championed anti-Israel rhetoric in the UN.
The report, compiled by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid: Palestine and the Israeli Occupation,” was produced by Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk, the UN’s former Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and American political scientist Virginia Tilley of Southern Illinois University.
Both have a long history of anti-Israel activism.
The report “concludes, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, and urges swift action to oppose and end it.”
ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab states.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the report to be removed from ESCWA’s website.
On Monday March 20, The Times of Israel had reported that the US issued a strongly worded statement accusing the United Nations Human Rights Council of longstanding bias against Israel.
The State Department announced it would boycott the council’s entire Monday discussion about alleged human rights abuses committed by Israel and vote against any resolutions that came from it. Specifically, the United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the UN Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven. Agenda Item Seven is a permanent fixture requiring the council to discuss three times each year any alleged abuses of human rights committed by Israel against Palestinians.
Addressing the UN on March 1, US Envoy and career diplomat Erin Barclay stated: “No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item… The obsession with Israel… is the largest threat to this council’s credibility. It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US would reiterate its “strong principled objection to the Human Rights Council’s biased agenda against Israel.” Tillerson wrote that the US was concerned as well about membership in the council of countries accused of human rights violations, such as China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
When the UNHRC was created out of the discredited UN Human Rights Commission in 2006, then-US president George W. Bush refused to join the new group, believing that it would lack credibility and that, like its predecessor, it would allow human right violators to become members.
In 2009, then-President Barack Obama reversed that decision, hoping to improve the UNHRC.
“With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system,” then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton said at the time.
In the article below, the CMJ UK Director of Communications Charles Gardner brings to light telling comments by Israeli Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, about UN reports accusing Israel of being an “apartheid” state. Mr. Gardner’s report, "Apartheid Claims Exposed," follows.