USA boycotts United Nations rights council debate on Israel, Palestinians

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson center stands with U.S. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks third right commander of the United Nations Command Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea and South Korean Deputy Commander of the Combined Force C

Geneva - A United Nations rights expert issued a blistering criticism of Israel's policies on Monday, deepening a row over alleged anti-Israel bias within the UN following U.S. pressure. The current session, which lasts four weeks, ends Friday.

The US also boycotted Monday's session saying the regular review showed the council's "long-standing bias against Israel", which threatens the "credibility" of the body.

Hillel Neuer, head of UN Watch, credited Haley's strong stand against the report with its disavowal by Guterres and eventually removal, saying, "there is no question that the initial moral voice here was that of USA ambassador Nikki Haley, and that it was US leverage which prompted the UN to act".

The State Department blasted the council again Monday for holding its Israel debate and vowed in a statement "to vote against every resolution put forth under this agenda item". "It is not Iran, where public hangings are a regular occurrence. It is Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East".

The statement concluded by calling on United Nations member states "to pursue much-needed reforms in the UN Human Rights Council". "No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the council", it continued.

The Jewish state and its supporters, notably in Washington, have repeatedly highlighted Agenda Item Seven as evidence of the council's credibility gap, arguing it can not be effective while disproportionately targeting Israel.

In New York, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, defended the "important" work of the council. "We've wasted enough time and money on it". Israel easily tops the rankings: second-place Syria, where since 2011 hundreds of thousands have been killed, has been the subject of 19 resolutions.

In remarks during her confirmation hearing, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed the UN's "outrageous bias against our close ally Israel", and specifically mentioned that in the past ten years since its founding, the UN Human Rights Council "has passed 62 resolutions condemning the reasonable actions Israel takes to defend its security".

Michael Lynk pointed on Monday to announcements by Israel to build 6,000 new housing units in Palestinian areas, accompanied by "high rates of demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem".

Global law views the West Bank as "occupied territory" - including East Jerusalem - and considers all Jewish settlement-building on the land to be illegal.

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