UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution Condemning Israel Over Gaza War Report

Resolution condemns Israel's targeting of innocents but completely ignores Hamas rocket fire; Netanyahu: Council neither interested in facts nor human rights.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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A general view of the assembly hall at the United Nations Human Rights Council is pictured at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.
A general view of the assembly hall at the United Nations Human Rights Council is pictured at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The United Nations Human Rights Council decided on Friday to adopt a resolution condemning Israel over the UN report into the Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

41 countries vote in favor of the resolution, while one country – the U.S. – voted against.

India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained.

The fact that India abstained reflects a significant policy change by Delhi; traditionally, India voted in favor of all anti-Israel resolutions in UN institutions. Friday's abstention is another sign of warming ties between India and Israel since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

Officials at the Prime Minister's Office expressed appreciation for the "moral stand" taken by the U.S. against "the hypocritical UNHRC resolution." The officials added that in recent days Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with the Indian premier, the Kenyan president and the prime minister of Ethiopia and asked them to abstain.

Netanyahu himself said in a statement that the UNHRC is neither interested "in facts nor in true human rights."

The resolution welcomes the UN Human Rights Council report, which found evidence of alleged war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas during the Gaza conflict in 2014. The resolution calls for the implementation of the report and its recommendations. It also calls for an end to the impunity of Israeli officials responsible for alleged war crimes.

The resolution, which was drafted by the Palestinians and Arab states, condemns Israel's targeting of innocent civilians and completely ignores the rockets launched by Hamas; it also ignores the inquiry's criticism of the Palestinian side.

The resolution calls on all UN officials to implement the report's recommendations, and on all UNHRC member states to ensure the application of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories. The resolution also states that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights must report on the implementation at the next council meeting in several months' time.

Israeli Ambassador Eviatar Manor opened his speech with a quote by Hans Christian Andersen. The author, said Manor, "famously that the King is naked. So let me assume the role of the little boy in the story and tell you- this Council has lost its bearing."

Manor added: "I have no interest in debating the content of the resolution. It is an anti-Israeli manifesto. I will state, however, that the resolution distorts the intention of the authors of the report by completely ignoring alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups."

According to Manor, Israel went "to extraordinary length" to avoid harming civilians during Operation Protective Edge, and that it is "fully committed" to investigating any alleged violation of international law. "This Council acts as an agent provocateur feeding the flames, not extinguishing them," he concluded.

Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi strongly assailed Israel, saying that the UN investigative commission’s recommendations regarding the Gaza war must be adopted and implemented quickly. He said that the “reality in which Israel stands above international law must be changed."

The Saudi representative condemned Israel, saying it was the world’s biggest violator of international law. “Israel should be brought to justice in order to implement the committee’s recommendations” said the Saudi diplomat.

The American ambassador said that the U.S. administration is concerned by the resolution, which harms the important work being done by the Human Rights Council. He said that the report was biased against Israel, focusing only on alleged violations by Israel with no reference to alleged violations by Palestinians which were mentioned in the report. This, he said, shows the partiality of the Council.

The Lithuanian ambassador, speaking on behalf of European Union countries which are members of the Council, said that he and his colleagues had gone to great lengths to ensure that the resolution would be more balanced than its initial wording. He said that it is too early to take a stand regarding the report, which must be studied carefully along with its recommendations, before considering implementation. Nevertheless, he stressed that European Union states which are members of the Human Rights Council believe that they managed to balance the resolution, which is why they decided to vote in its favor.

France’s representative clarified that a confrontation such as occurred last summer in Gaza must not repeat itself. He noted that those who committed war crimes should be prosecuted, regardless of which side they are on. He lamented the fact that Israel did not cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry. He also stressed that the resolution should have condemned the firing of rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, but said that the final version was balanced, which is why France supported it.

Britain’s representative said that his country condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and the use it made of UN facilities for firing missiles, as well as the use of civilians as human shields. “All of these constitute violations of international law” he said. “Israel has the right to defend itself against attacks, but force must be used proportionately while distinguishing between civilians and military targets.” He added that Britain wanted the text to address more the threat against Israel by terrorist organizations in Gaza and to Israel’s right to defend itself, but that despite this he would vote to adopt the resolution.

Netanyahu: Israel wrongfully condemned

Prime Minister Netanyahu sharply criticized the UNHRC following the passing of the resolution. "On a day when Israel is under fire from Sinai, and while in Egypt ISIS is carrying out cruel terror attacks, Assad is slaughtering his own people in Syria and in Iran the number of arbitrary executions rises year after year – the United Nations Human Rights Council decides to wrongfully condemn Israel which acted to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organization," he said.

Thank you President Obama for standing with Israel at UNHRC

"Israel is the most stable democracy in the Middle East," Netanyahu said, "ensuring equal rights to all of its citizens and operating in accordance to international law. Those who are afraid to openly attack terror will end up being attacked by terror."

Netanyahu said that the UNHRC, which has adopted to this day "more resolutions against Israel than all of its resolutions against other countries, can't call itself a human rights council." He added Israel will continue to defend its citizens from those who call and seek to destroy it.

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