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June 21, 2018 12:27 pm

No Endemic Bias Against Israel at UN, Russian Foreign Minister Claims

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in Moscow. Photo: Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has adamantly denied that Israel is the target of bias and discrimination within the UN system.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Thursday with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Lavrov made the claim about Israel in comments concerning the US decision to quit the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

On Tuesday, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, cited a number of reasons for the move, including the presence of some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers among the UNHRC’s 47 members, as well as its in-built bias against Israel — the only country to have a permanent agenda item at the council dedicated to its alleged human rights abuses.

According to Lavrov, the charge of bias against Israel in the UN’s policy-making bodies is a fiction. “In regards to the accusations of Nikki Haley against the Security Council in the endless hostility towards Israel, I cannot agree with this,” Lavrov stated. “The Security Council has an obligation to consider reports of the secretary-general on the situation in the Middle East, including the situation in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”

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Lavrov added that the “discussion that unfolds on the basis of these reports reflects the events that take place in the Middle East, directly between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

Voting tallies at the UN’s various policy-making bodies confirm that alleged violations by Israel are highlighted far more than those committed by the other 192 member states. In 2017, the UN General Assembly passed 21 Arab-sponsored resolutions condemning Israel, with just six for the rest of the world, while at the Security Council the US frequently uses its veto power to shield Israel from similarly hostile resolutions.

As for the UNHRC, its most recent session in March resulted in the passage of five resolutions that harshly criticized Israel, including one demanding that the Jewish state surrender the Golan Heights, captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, to the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

On Monday this week — the eve of the US withdrawal — the council affirmed that it would continue updating its “blacklist” of companies conducting business with Jewish communities in the West Bank, promising “an update possibly before September,” when the General Assembly convenes for its annual meeting in New York.

Criticizing the US decision to leave the UNHRC, Lavrov said he expected the Americans to “reaffirm their commitment to the United Nations, particularly in an important area such as human rights.”

Continued Lavrov: “As you know, the United States considers itself to be a champion in this field. But if it were so, Washington would have arguments that would allow it to continue working within the Human Rights Council, particularly with those who promote initiatives and stances quite contrary to those of the US.”

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