The UNHRC held its notorious Agenda Item 7 session this week in Geneva with voting set to take place beginning of next week. The session has been described as three hours of defamation and “blood libel” as some of the world’s worst human rights abusers ganged up on Israel calling for an arms embargo against the Jewish state.

Agenda Item 7 is a standing item under which the Security Council is mandated to debate alleged Israeli human rights violations at every session. Israel is the only country that faces such a mandate. 

The United Kingdom has said it will vote against all resolutions under Item 7 next week and has called for the statutory singling out of Israel to be abolished. However the Foreign Office has been unable to confirm how it will vote on Israel-related resolutions that fall outside Agenda Item 7.

During the session on Thursday, the UNHRC chair gave the platform to the following Muslim states: “Palestine”, Syria, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Libya, Sudan, Bahrain, Indonesia, Senegal, Mauritania, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, UAE, Oman, Djibouti, Tunisia, Yemen, Turkey.

According to Arutz Sheva, only the UAE gave a balanced statement, saying, ““We wish to see two states at peace, Israel and Palestine side by side.”

Meanwhile, other speakers at the session included representatives from North Korea, Russia, China, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Ireland and Luxembourg were present to slam Israel for crimes, the latter particularly on “violence against Palestinian women, girls and children.”

Libya, Bahrain and Iraq called for an updated international boycott list of company names working in the settlements, also requesting the Human Rights High Commissioner to make the list public.

Maldives stressed Israeli fictional denial of vaccines to Palestinians, while Namibia added that Israeli denial was “choking” Palestinians to death. Pakistan claimed 700 sick Palestinians were without treatment in Israeli jails.

At the same time, Algeria accused Israel of racism, while Lebanon condemned all “Jewish” provocations permitted by the pandemic. Iran, for its part, attacked “the United States, Canada and the Netherlands for accepting “crimes against Palestine.”

Chile denounced Israel’s blockade of Gaza, while Venezuela expressed anger at the European member-states who boycotted the session (due partly to the efforts of the Wiesenthal Centre and other sister NGOs).

Venezuela and Lebanon led the calls for the inquisition of Israel to continue.

Austria, Denmark, Italy, France and the United Kingdom were also attacked for their call to close Item 7 and absorb it into the general debate on human rights violations worldwide.

At the meeting on Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet said her office had prepared three reports on Israeli activity against Palestinians for the 46th session, which covered the period of November 1, 2019, to October 31, 2020.

Israel wasn’t present at the session, but Meirav Shachar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told  Jerusalem Post that the “obsessive concentration” on Israel was expressed by the continued presence of Item 7, which she said was a “stain on the UNHRC.”
 
She said so long as Item 7 exists, “the council cannot deal with Israel in an impartial way,” and that the continued presence of Item 7 was the collective failure of the entire UN to ensure impartiality.

The UK has stated that it will vote against all resolutions under Article Item 7 next week and that Item 7 itself should be scrapped altogether. However Britain hasn’t indicated how it would vote on Israel-related resolutions outside of Item 7.

At a debate in Westminster this week, FCO Minister, James Cleverly, said the UK “will continue to push for the abolition of agenda item 7,” whilst reaffirming that the UK will vote against all motions under that item next week. However the Foreign minister didn’t confirm that Britain will do likewise for other resolutions under different Agenda items, saying that “the UK is happy to support the scrutiny of countries, including Israel, if it is done fairly and proportionately. “

“Our blanket opposition is to resolutions under item 7, rather than more broadly to resolutions on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We will therefore decide how we vote based purely on the merits of the resolution and on the final text that is put before the council,” said Cleverly.

MPs debate UK voting record on Israel at UN – here’s what they said

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