The United Nation’s Human Right’s Council’s impending investigation into Israeli settlements has prompted U.S. and Israeli leaders to contemplate removing their countries from the international body.
The HRC ignited an anti-Israel firestorm yesterday when it appointed a panel to investigate the effects of Israeli settlement growth on Palestinian human rights, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli paper reports:
"According to the text of the decision, the UN will ‘dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.’"
Only the U.S. voted against the decision, while 36 member nations voted in favor. Ten nations abstained.
The renewed focus on Jewish home construction prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call the HRC a "hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel," according to Haaretz. Israel is now contemplating leaving the council.
The membership and focus of the HRC has been a source of controversy since its inception.
Former President George W. Bush boycotted the HRC—home to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers, among them China, Russia, and Cuba—and voted against its creation. Obama, however, joined the council in 2009, shortly after he took office, maintaining that a policy of "engagement" with biased nations would serve U.S. interests.
The settlement investigation sparked outrage on Capitol Hill, where one senior Republican congressional aide who tracks the UN chastised President Obama for allowing the U.S. to become a member of such an anti-Israel organization.
"President Obama broke with U.S. precedent by joining the Human Rights Council claiming he could reform the organization from within," the Hill staffer told the Free Beacon. "Like in Iran, the President's engagement strategy at the UN has failed. If the President chooses to remain a member of the Human Rights Council in the face of unparalleled anti-Israel castigation, he will tacitly condone the kind of new anti-Semitism, which recently led to the murders of Jewish school children in France—and he will bear that albatross all the way to November."
A senior Democratic Hill staffer involved in foreign affairs said "the Human Rights Council already doesn’t have many friends on the Hill."
"This ridiculous action of singling out Israel, while remaining silent in the face of countless actual human rights violations, would be humorous if it wasn't so dangerous," noted the Democrat. "Maybe they should spend less time on their anti-Zionist fetish and more time reflecting on why the Human Rights Council itself includes some of the world's worst human rights abusers."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Obama administration’s efforts to turn the council more pro-Israel have failed.
"Any limited, tactical gains made by U.S. engagement at the Council are outweighed by the harm done through granting legitimacy to the fundamentally illegitimate body,’ Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "The fact is that, with or without the U.S., the UNHRC remains dominated by rogue regimes who protect human rights abusers and target free democracies like Israel."
"Instead of running for re-election to the Council," she added, "the U.S. should finally leave that rogues’ gallery and seek credible alternative forums to advance human rights."
The Anti-Defamation League, a well-established Jewish group that combats anti-Semitism, also urged the U.S. to leave the council.
"This resolution makes a mockery of human rights by focusing its efforts on bullying Israel while completely ignoring serious humanitarian violations across the world," the group said in a statement. "It will only prove destructive by further exacerbating tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians."
In supporting the HRC’s initiative, ambassadors from the Palestinian territories and Syria accused the Israelis of "taking over our lands," implying that the U.N. investigation could help stop this supposed seizure.