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U.S. envoy calls out U.N. Human Rights Council for 'obsession with Israel

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President Donald Trump's administration, as it reportedly reviews its participation in the United Nations' Human Rights Council, is calling out the Geneva-based body for its "obsession with Israel."

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay told the council Wednesday that "no other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item," adding, "The obsession with Israel … is the largest threat to this council’s credibility. It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council."

"The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel," she asserted.

During her comments, Barclay assured the council that the United States' commitment to human rights "is stronger than ever," but said the council has drifted away from defending such "universal principles" and is instead focusing on condemning Israel.

She noted the abuses being carried out in countries such as Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's regime, according to a recent report from Amnesty International, carried out a calculated campaign of mass hangings between 2011 and 2015, killing as many as 13,000 people, most of whom were civilian opposition supporters.

Instead of focusing more on international human rights abusers, Barclay said, the council has maintained a "consistent, unfair and unbalanced focus" on Israel, which she said has "deeply troubled" the White House.

"When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from scrutiny," she said, "but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced and unfounded bias."

The U.S. initially declined to join the 47-member council in 2006, according to The Times of Israel, citing concerns over the membership of some authoritarian countries, but it ultimately joined in 2009 under former President Barack Obama's administration, which worked to rally like-minded leaders to condemn human rights violations around the world.

Barclay has reignited concerns about some members of the council, saying that the citizens of some member nations "face ongoing efforts by their own governments to restrict their human rights and fundamental freedoms," such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

"In some member states, individuals are subjected to arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and sexual and gender-based violence by officials of their own governments," she said. "That is unacceptable, especially given the leadership role that council members have."

According to data compiled by the non-governmental organization Human Rights Voices, the council, since its founding in 2006, has passed 67 resolutions condemning Israel. By comparison, Syria has been the target of 22 resolutions and Iran only six.

All of this follows the Obama administration's decision to abstain from a vote on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank, land claimed by the Palestinians.

On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump was very critical of the Obama-era move. However, during his joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Trump asked Netanyahu to "hold back" on settlement construction in the disputed territory.

He said that, in order to reach a peace deal, Israel would have to offer "some flexibility" and "show they really want to make a deal."

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