U.S. boycotts United Nations rights council debate on Israel, Palestinians

Posted March 20, 2017

In a statement made today (Monday), the US State Department expressed its vehement opposition to the UNHRC's session entitled "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories", also known as Agenda Item Seven.

In a report, the United Nations special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, charged Israel with "the subjugation of humanity" in Palestine and intensifying a crackdown on human rights campaigners.

Another concern for the U.S.is the makeup of the 47-member council - which includes countries with poor human rights records, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

The council's targeting of Israel has decreased in recent years, according to a 2017 report by the Council on Foreign Relations. "The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council". "Later this week, the United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same".

The boycott comes on the heels of the resignation of a Jordanian U.N. official who had sought to advance an anti-Israel agenda opposed by the United Statesand other nations.

Trump administration officials told the Free Beacon that the increased pressure on the U.N.is part of an organized effort by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who hopes to reform the global organization and eliminate its perceived anti-Israel bias.

"All UN member states and worldwide partners who are committed to human rights to work with us to pursue much needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council", the U.S. said earlier on Sunday.

A letter from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to advocacy groups, obtained by the AP news agency last week, said the US would not continue participating unless the council undergoes "considerable reform".

President George W. Bush refused to join the council in 2006 when it was created out of the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Under former president George Bush, the United States refused to participate in all council debates, but former U.S. president Barack Obama believed it was important for the USA to engage with the council. Under former President George W. Bush, the US never participated in council debates, but former President Barack Obama believed it was important for the country to engage with the group.