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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The loneliness of an Israeli UN representative

The UN Fourth Committee met on November 8th to discuss, naturally, Israeli "crimes." Just as they did on November 1st, 2nd and 5th. 

Here is a list of the countries whose representatives spoke: Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Libya, UAE, Algeria, Lebanon, Yemen, Nigeria, Tanzania, the PA - and Israel.

You have to admire any Israeli diplomat who can stand up to this uniform cast of hypocrites, day in and day out, whose own real human rights violations dwarf the worst lies that Israel has ever been accused of.

In this case, it was Amir Weissbrod, who is the Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN, who had the task of defending Israel against the dictators and despots.

Here is the UN's synopsis of Amir Weissbrod's statement:

AMIR WEISSBROD (Israel), reaffirming the importance Israel placed on the preservation of human rights, said his country was a vibrant and open democracy that enjoyed an independent and highly professional judiciary, active civil society, and free press. Despite constant threats from terrorists, who sought to deny Israel’s citizens their most fundamental rights, Israel upheld and pursued human rights as a sacrosanct ideal that was at the core of the values on which his State was built. It was unfortunate that the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories did not seek to advance the values of human rights, but rather a cynical political agenda with the goal of vilifying Israel and the right of its citizens to live in peace and security and denying them the very right it purported to cherish for others.

He said that the report offered another one-sided narrative, submitting a wide-ranging and harsh criticism of Israel, while failing to mention the simple fact that more than 8,800 rockets had been launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and villages since 2001. The report also completely ignored the current military build-up by the Hamas terrorist organization, which cynically placed its military installations near and inside civilian buildings, including in close proximity to United Nations facilities, endangering both civilians and international organizations in the region. The report also did not mention that, for more than four years, Hamas had held the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, depriving him of his basic human rights, including any visit from the Red Cross.

Explanations that such discussion about Hamas or human rights violations committed by other Palestinian groups did not fall within the mandate of the report were convenient and excluded the Committee from its basic obligation to pursue impartial and objective fact-finding, he said. The Special Committee in its work predetermined its conclusion and findings. Israel refused — and would continue to refuse — to cooperate with a body that prejudged its culpability.

He went on to say that there had been many positive developments in the West Bank and in Gaza over the past year, as had been acknowledged by the diplomatic Quartet and other relevant bodies that sought to promote peace, instead of the predictable narrative of the Special Committee. Israel was engaged with several United Nations agencies, international organizations, and partner countries, to move forward and substantially improve the West Bank economy, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints. Those significant steps should not be taken lightly.

It was absurd, he said, to hear condemnation and criticism of Israel’s judiciary system and human rights record from several countries in the region and beyond — countries where the majority of human rights activists were in prison, where there was no freedom of press, and where there was no independent judiciary. For those countries to lecture Israel about the way to conduct itself in regards to human rights was cynical and reflected the nature of the Special Committee’s work. He asked which of those countries had ever conducted, even once, a true investigation into its State’s human rights practices as Israel did. He called on Israel’s Arab neighbours to join in taking concrete steps to pursue peace instead of engaging in futile rhetoric. He hoped that the Palestinians would join Israel in direct negotiations without delay.