U.S. Lawmakers Call for UN Commission of Inquiry on Israel to Be Disbanded Over 'Antisemitic' Comments

This comes after a UN human rights expert leading the panel raised the question of why Israel is 'even a member of the United Nations'

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Israeli airstrike destroys Jala Tower, housing offices of Al-Jazeera the Associated Press, in Gaza city, May 2021.
Israeli airstrike destroys Jala Tower, housing offices of Al-Jazeera the Associated Press, in Gaza city, May 2021.Credit: Mahmud Hams / AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – Thirty-four bipartisan U.S. lawmakers are calling for the United Nations to disband the open-ended Commission of Inquiry on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza due to recent remarks made by an expert helming the panel.

The lawmakers further urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to immediately remove Miloon Kothari from his position and to take definitive action against antisemitism at the United Nations, more broadly.

Kothari, one of three human rights experts on the UN Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry, told the Mondoweiss website that he "would go as far as to raise the question of why [Israel is] even a member of the United Nations." He added that "we are very disheartened by social media that is controlled largely by — whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs."

“We were deeply disappointed last year at the formation of this unprecedented, open-ended, and biased COI to investigate Israel which completely ignores the role of terrorist groups such as Hamas in the protraction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," wrote the lawmakers, led by Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Brad Schneider alongside Republican Reps. Andrew Garbarino and Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

"At the time we viewed the creation of this commission as another attempt by the United Nations Human Rights Council to unjustifiably target Israel and feel even stronger about this assessment today,” they continued.

“Mr. Kothari’s comments, reflecting both an abhorrent, deep-seated antisemitism and a rejection of the very legitimacy of the State of Israel, warrant universal condemnation. These comments should have no place at the United Nations and clearly demonstrate the lack of impartiality and disproportionate focus on Israel by the COI,” the lawmakers added.

U.S. and Israeli officials, as well as officials from more than a dozen other countries, have condemned Kothari for the remarks. Kothari has since apologized for his use of the term "Jewish lobby", describing it as "incorrect, inappropriate and insensitive."

The COI was established last year following the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and is the first to have an “ongoing” mandate from the UN rights body.

The Biden administration has formally and publicly opposed the COI since its inception, and bipartisan U.S. lawmakers have continuously pushed for its defunding and shuttering. AIPAC has made legislation focused on its abolition a key lobbying priority, while the U.S. has endeavored to cut its budget by 25 percent in lieu of failing to block its establishment.

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