Votes 23-8 for Arms Embargo and War Crimes Suits against Israel
March 24, 2019
United Nations Human Rights Council voted 23-8 for an arms embargo against
Israel and the prosecution of Israelis for war crimes over IDF actions along the
Gaza border last year.
It was one of five anti-Israel resolutions which the UNHRC approved on Friday in Geneva as it wrapped up its 40th session.
Australia was the only country who voted against all five of the texts. Neither Israel or the United States are members of the council.
Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Hungary, and the Ukraine all opposed the war crimes resolution on Gaza, which has been dubbed the “accountability” resolution.
There were also 15 countries that abstained from the accountability resolution: Argentina, the Bahamas, Croatia, Congo, Denmark, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Rwanda, Slovakia, Togo, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Spain was the only European country out of the 47-member UNHRC, which voted in favor of the “accountability” resolution.
Togo meant to vote against the resolution but had abstained in error, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
“Israel notes with satisfaction that 9 countries voted against the biased resolution and that a moral majority of countries did not endorse the resolution. In effect, this is a vote of no confidence to the report,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Israel will continue to exercise its right of self defense and will protect its citizens against terror and aggression.
Israel will not cooperate with the Council on the issue,” the Foreign Ministry added.
The “accountability” resolution calls for the approval of a 252-page report on IDF violence against the Hamas led weekly protests along the Gaza border, called the Great March of Return.
The report looked at the 189 Palestinians deaths and more than 6,000 injuries that occurred during the first nine months of the protest, which is still ongoing.
Israel has charged that these are violent riots and border infiltration attempts. Palestinian participants have launched hundreds of incendiary devices against southern Israel that has destroyed thousands of dunams of fields and forests. They report, in contrast, claims Palestinian participants were largely unarmed and were intentionally shot by the IDF.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Aviva Raz Shechter said the report ignored the threat the protests posed to the 70,000 Israelis who live near the Gaza border.
The biased nature of the report was most clearly evident its failure to ask Hamas “to stop sending women, children and others to sabotage the border” and to insisted that it stop using them as “shields for armed attacks,” Raz Shechter said.
The report did not ask Hamas “to stop sending militants to the border disguised as civilians” or to stop “sending explosive balloons into Israel,” she said. Nor did the report address the issue of halting explosive devices or stopping the Hamas supply of grenades and other explosives to protesters so they could attack IDF forces, she said.
PLO Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi said the report showed “there has been deliberate killing and targeting of 189 civilians protected by the law, including 35 children and two journalists.”
He recalled that in a prior UNHRC debate the Israeli ambassador had spoken of an Israeli girl, who she said had been killed for being Jewish.
“We are against the targeting of civilians as a principle, be they Israelis or others. She [the Israeli Ambassador] did not refer to the killing of 35 [Palestinian[ children. Does this mean that the killing of children for not being Jewish is acceptable?,” he asked.
What is at stake here is the question of whether civilians can be targeted, Khraishi said, If it is acceptable to target civilians within the context of the Gaza demonstrations, than no one’s home is safe. “Each of your homes will be targeted,” he said to the member states.
“The targeting of civilians is a serious matter that should not be condoned,” he said.
Khraishi blamed world-wide terrorism and extremism on Israeli impunity for its crimes. “This is the main reason behind all the chaos, the extremism, the killing all over the world from New Zealand to Norway to other world countries,” he said.
Extremism on the right is jeopardizing the safety of all countries, he said.
Australia Ambassador Sally Mansfield said the problem with the accountability resolution was that it failed to call for accountability for both Hamas and Israel.
“It is unacceptable that Hamas is not mentioned at all in this resolution,” she said.
Czech Republic Jan Kara said the resolution was “profoundly” unbalanced. “The Czech Republic does not share the assumption that the protests in Gaza that started in March of last year have been only civilian in nature. The resolution does not adequately reflect the responsibility of Hamas, let alone its accountability,” he said.
The report and its accompanying “accountability” resolution had initially been debated under Agenda Item 7, along with four other anti-Israel resolutions on Monday.
Israel has pushed for the elimination of Agenda Item 7, which holds that alleged Israeli human rights abuses must be debated under this line item at every UNHRC session. No other country is singled out in this way.
All other censure of countries for human rights abuses occurs largely under Agenda Item 4. Israel is the only other country with more than one resolution tabled against it.
The United Kingdom and Denmark said on Thursday said that in protest over such bias, they would oppose all resolution tabled under Agenda Item 7.
At the last moment, in a minor nod to the growing European unease with Agenda Item 7, the “accountability” resolution was moved to Item 2.
This allowed Denmark and the United Kingdom to abstain rather than oppose the resolution.
Denmark, the United Kingdom and Australia all voted against the four anti-Israel resolutions under Agenda Item 7.
The votes on the other three resolutions was as follows. The resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination passed 41-3, with two abstentions.
The vote on the alleged Israeli human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories passed 39-3, with five abstentions.
The vote on Israeli settlements passed 32-5, with ten abstentions.