President Donald Trump’s administration will reportedly boycott the United Nations Human Rights Council over the group’s perceived anti-Israel positions.
According to a report from the Washington Free Beacon, the White House has chosen to snub the council because of at least five anti-Israel resolutions it is slated to take up Monday, when the group will also consider Agenda Item Seven, which mandates the council debate Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians during each of its sessions.
All other human rights violations, the Jerusalem Post reported, are dealt with under Agenda Item Four. Under former President George W. Bush, the U.S. never participated in council debates, but former President Barack Obama believed it was important for the country to engage with the group.
According to the council’s practical guide, Agenda Item Seven, which deals with the “impact of the Israeli occupation on human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” is the “only country-based situation to feature as a permanent item” in every meeting. Discussion on Item Seven also addresses Palestinians’ “right” to “self-determination.”
Agenda Item Four, unlike Item Seven, does not have a “permanent” place on the council, according to the guide. Item Four is a discussion that centers on any “human rights situations that require the council’s attention.”
The U.S. was on the council for six of Obama’s eight years in office. Under his administration, the U.S. always voted in support of Israel and in the final years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. did not participate in Agenda Item Seven debates.
“The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the existence of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Agenda Item Seven,” the State Department said Monday in a statement, according to the Post. “[T]he United States will vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item and is encouraging other countries to do the same.”
“Today’s actions in the council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel. No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the council,” it continued.
Trump administration officials told the Free Beacon that the increased pressure on the U.N. is part of an organized effort by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who hopes to reform the international organization and eliminate its perceived anti-Israel bias.
Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the council’s anti-Israel agenda must be remedied before the U.S. rejoins the council.
“The argument that the U.S. has to participate in bodies like the United Nations Human Rights Council or risk losing our influence over it is ridiculous,” one unnamed official told the Free Beacon. “The UNHRC is, like its predecessor, morally bankrupt and the only good news is that its actions have little practical effect in the real world. We've wasted enough time and money on it.”
Moving forward, the Trump White House has said it intends to vote against every U.N. resolution that negatively impacts Israel and will encourage other countries to do the same.
All of this follows the Obama administration’s controversial decision to not vote against but abstain from a vote on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which demands Israel halt construction in land Palestinians claim as their own.
In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had no question “whatsoever” that Obama was behind the controversial U.N. resolution.
“We have unequivocal evidence that the Security Council resolution passed in the U.N. against Israel was led by the administration,” he said at the time.
The Obama White House repeatedly denied having any involvement in the drafting of or planning for the resolution.
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