Foreign Ministry denies US absence at UNHRC debate on Israel sign of tensions with Obama – Israel News – Jerusalem Post
The Foreign Ministry denied Monday a Reuters report that the US absence at the United Nations Human Rights Council debate on Israel was a sign of US President Barack Obama’s displeasure with Israel.
It said the US had refrained from taking the floor at Israel’s request.
A US spokesman in Geneva told Reuters that, “The US delegation will not be speaking about Palestine today.” He declined further comment.
Since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has been Israel’s strongest champion at the 47-member state forum, which often solely singles Israel out for censure.
On Monday it was the European Union who took the floor in defense of Israel during Agenda Item 7, which mandates that the UNHRC discuss Israeli human rights violations during every session.
Eliminating Agenda Item 7 has long been one of Obama’s policy objectives at the UNHRC. The EU said that while Israel had an obligation to uphold international law, it should be treated as any other country and any violations should be discussed under Agenda Item 4.
For several hours Monday morning country after country, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, took the floor to protest Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, including Algeria which went so far as to accuse Israel of genocide.
When the 28th UNHRC session opened in Geneva earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry took the floor and swore that the US would fight any effort to isolate and delegitimize Israel at the UN and elsewhere.
“We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just at the UN Human Rights Council, but wherever it occurs,” Kerry said.
While he applauded the UNHRC’s work in defense of human rights, he charged that it fell short with regard to Israel, which was often singled out and treated unfairly, particularly in Geneva.
“It must be said that the UNHRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization. It has the potential to limit the good that we have to do,” Kerry said.