Israel Backs Russia's Expulsion From 'Biased' UN Rights Council Over Ukraine War

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the vote 'doesn't change our view' of the international body, dubbing it 'radical, morally flawed and anti-Israeli'

Jonathan Lis
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An emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.
An emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.Credit: ANDREW KELLY/ REUTERS
Jonathan Lis

The UN General Assembly voted in favor of suspending Russia from its Human Rights Council over Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which in recent days has seen particularly horrific imagery emerge in the wake of Russia's drawback from key areas around Kyiv.

Israel voted in favor of the proposal, the most significant step it has publicly taken against Russia since the war began, alongside its support for the UN General Assembly's condemnation of Russia a few weeks ago.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said Russia's "unjustified invasion" of Ukraine and the "killing of innocent civilians" were the reason for Israel supporting the motion.

Still, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the vote "doesn't change our view of the UN Human Rights Council, which is a radical, morally flawed, biased and anti-Israeli body."

The resolution to suspend Russia from the UN's top rights body was introduced by the United States, Britain and others. There were 93 Yes votes, 24 No votes and 58 abstentions.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield launched the campaign to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council in the wake of videos and photos of streets in the town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians after Russian soldiers retreated. The deaths have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has vehemently denied its troops were responsible.

Explaining their decision not to support the resolution, some countries called it premature, noting that there are ongoing investigations into whether war crimes have occurred, or said it would undermine the credibility of the Human Rights Council and the United Nations. Others said the resolution reflected American and European geopolitical agendas and what opponents called Western hypocrisy and selective outrage about human rights.

    “Such a hasty move at the General Assembly, which forces countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states and intensify the confrontation between the parties concerned,” said Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun, who voted against the motion. “It is like adding fuel to the fire.”

    Indian Ambassador T. S. Tirumurti, who abstained, said his country wasn’t taking sides, except the "side of peace and for an immediate end to violence.” “When innocent human lives are at stake, diplomacy must prevail as the only viable option,” he added.

    Russia officially remains a member until the end of its term, but loses all the rights of that membership. For example, the country would no longer be able to participate in the sessions, not even as an observer.

    Throughout the Human Rights Council's history, only one country has been booted out: Libya was expelled in March 2011 for its brutal crackdown on protesters

    The 47-member council is based in Geneva. Each member state on the body is elected to a three-year term.

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