Palestinian Official Chides 'Baby-snatching' U.S. for Withdrawal From UN Human Rights Council

PLO executive member says 'it is not surprising that the U.S. administration, who gives orders to snatch crying babies from their parents’ arms, has withdrawn' ■ EU, Britain, China, Russia and Australia join the chorus

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks to the press, Washington, U.S., June 19, 2018
\ TOYA SARNO JORDAN/ REUTERS

A Palestinian official chided the United States on Wednesday for its decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which it claimed was as a result of the council's "unconscionable" bias against Israel.

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said that "it is not surprising that the United States administration, who gives orders to snatch crying babies from their parents’ arms, has withdrawn." Ashrawi added the that the "U.S. administration’s blind commitment to Israel and its proven track record of human rights violations will succeed in isolating it in the international arena and undermining its influence and standing globally."

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that the U.S. was officially withdrawing from the council, blaming the international organization of being biased against Israel and inefficient in combating human rights violations around the world.

Haley accused the council of failing to denounce violence by the Iranian regime against its own citizens, who rose up in protests during the last winter. She added that instead of dealing with those human rights violations, the council accepted a large number of resolutions against Israel - more than any other country in the world.

Russia also blasted the American move, calling it "boorish" and saying the U.S. "inflicted a powerful blow to its human rights reputation."

These comments were echoed by delegates from the European Union, Australia and Britain. "The U.S. decision risks damaging the U.S. international role and undermining the role of the U.S. as a champion and supporter of democracy on the world stage," EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini said.

Britain's ambassador Julian Braithwaite added that "we have lost a member who has been at the forefront of liberty for generations. While we agree with the U.S. on the need for reform, our support for this Human Rights Council remains steadfast, and we will continue to advance the cause of reform from within its ranks." 

China also expressed regret on Wednesday over the U.S. decision, with state media saying the image of the U.S. as a defender of rights was "on the verge of collapse". 

Rights group have criticized the decision as sending a message that the United States was turning a blind eye to abuses across the world. 

A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office thanked the U.S. for its decision "against the hypocrisy and lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council" and said that the council has for years "proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights." The Israeli statement added that the council "obsessively focuses on Israel" rather than confronting regimes that systematically violate human rights."

The Human Rights Council was founded in 2006, and initially the U.S. refused to join it. That changed in 2009, under the administration of President Barack Obama, who argued that the council was an important body that the U.S. needs to engage with and influence.

DPA and Reuters contributed to this story.