US reviewing role in UN Human Rights Council over ‘obsession with Israel’
The United States has consistently argued that the Human Rights Council unfairly focuses on allegations of Israeli human rights violations, including accusations of war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank.
“The United States also remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel,” Erin Barclay, US deputy assistant secretary of state, told the Council on Wednesday. “No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item. How is that a sensible priority?”
Barclay decried the council for ignoring allegations of human rights violations in Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
“The obsession with Israel… is the largest threat to the 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 – not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs.”
Barclay concluded her speech by saying the Council must “move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions.”
There has been no immediate reaction from the Human Rights Council, but on Tuesday, a spokesman said the US has been “a very active and constructive partner in the Council for many years, spearheading a number of important initiatives,” according to Reuters.
In February, Politico reported, citing a former State Department official, that the Trump administration was considering quitting the council. The final decision would rest with Rex Tillerson, Nikki Haley, and President Trump himself.
Under Obama, US-Israeli relations hit a low point, when the US did not veto a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
Trump has indicated a U-turn in US relations with Israel, calling it a “cherished ally” in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February.