Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says it plans to withdraw from UNESCO, including from the organization’s human rights agenda
By RON GORANERMANThe Jerusalem Post StaffThe Jerusalem post, a joint venture of The Times of Israel and The Wall Street Journal, is an independent, Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization that is dedicated to covering Israel and the Middle East in depth.
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The Israel lobby, which has dominated US foreign policy for the last quarter century, is trying to take control of the UN Human Rights Council.
The Council, which is made up of representatives from 193 member states, was established in 1974 to provide a forum for discussing human rights and to strengthen international cooperation.
It has the ability to approve or reject resolutions, which it does annually.
The United States has been a staunch supporter of Israel, which also has the largest army in the world and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
The UN Human rights council has repeatedly failed to uphold Israel’s right to self-defense.
In a report released in November, the council described Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and called on Israel to withdraw them.
The council also urged Israel to immediately end its “military occupation” of the Palestinian territories, which critics say have been under Israeli military control since 1967.UN Human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the Council should not “impose an agenda of discrimination and exclusion,” as Israel is doing, but instead should respect and promote “international human rights law and basic human rights principles.”
The Trump administration has not commented on the Israeli push to remove the rights from the UN charter, which will go to the General Assembly next month.
The U.S. also has not yet responded to a request for comment on the UN General Assembly resolution, but a spokeswoman for the State Department told The Jerusalem Times that “we stand by our strong support for Israel and support the work of the council as it deals with the human rights situation in the Middle Eastern region.”
The US has repeatedly called for the Israeli government to withdraw settlements and withdraw its military occupation of the West Wall.
The administration’s stance has been reflected in statements by some members of Congress.
On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted that “the U.N. must not accept Israel’s illegitimate occupation of Palestine.
The Trump administration must take action to stop Israel from continuing to occupy Palestinian lands.”
In a tweet Thursday, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another member of Congress who has led the push for the resolution, said that the United States “strongly supports Israel and its right to defend itself from the threats of terrorism.”