Hours after the Trump administration announced the US would be withdrawing from UNESCO, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned the world body that all its agencies are under similar scrutiny.
The State Department announced Thursday that the US is withdrawing from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), effective December 31, 2018, citing financial considerations, the need for reform and the organization’s “continuing anti-Israel bias.” The Israeli government promptly announced that it would follow suit.
In June, ahead of a trip to Israel, Haley said the US could withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council unless it carried out reforms, including by removing its built-in procedural mechanism to bash Israel.
Haley said the Council’s “relentless, pathological campaign” against a state with a strong human rights record “makes a mockery not of Israel, but of the Council itself.”
In a speech to the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Haley said that if the Human Rights Council failed to make the required changes, the US would consider quitting the body and looking for ways to promote human rights in different frameworks.
The Council, she said, needs to abolish the infamous Agenda Item 7 (“the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”), which singles out Israel for perpetual censure. “There is no legitimate human rights reason for this agenda item to exist,” Haley said. “It is the central flaw that turns the Human Rights Council from an organization that can be a force for universal good, into an organization that is overwhelmed by a political agenda.”
“The Council is no more justified in having a separate agenda item on Israel than it is on having one for the United States, or Canada, or France, or the United Kingdom. More appropriate would be to have an agenda item on North Korea, Iran, and Syria, the world’s leading violators of human rights,” she said.
“These changes are the minimum necessary to resuscitate the Council as a respected advocate of universal human rights,” she went on. The US “will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights,” she warned.
PM welcomes 'courageous and moral decision' by Trump to quit UN cultural arm, says it has become a 'theater of the absurd'
Reports from Egypt Thursday, quoted by Israel Radio, said Hamas was not prepared to disarm. The Islamist terror group was said to have instead agreed, under the terms of the emerging reconciliation deal, that it would not use its weaponry unless a resort to force was approved by a joint panel. There was no immediate official confirmation of this.
The deal was signed in Cairo by new Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, at the headquarters of Egypt’s intelligence service, which oversaw the negotiations.