Wednesday, June 20, 2018

From Ian:

Pompeo, Haley Announces United States Leaving UN Human Rights Council
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that U.S. would leave the UN Human Rights Council.

Citing the organization as being broken and filled with hypocrisy, Pompeo and Haley mentioned how they tried to work with other council members in order to reform the body, however, they were met with resistance.

"The Trump administration is committed to protecting and promoting the God-given dignity and freedom of every human being. Every individual has rights that are inherent and enviable," Pompeo said. "They are given by God and not by government. Because of that, no government must take them away."

"For decades, the United States has led global efforts to promote human rights, often through multilateral institutions. While we have seen improvements in certain human rights situations, for far too long we have waited while that progress comes too slowly or in some cases, never comes," Pompeo said. "Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled. President Trump wants to move the ball forward. From Day One he has called out institutions or countries who say one thing and do another, and that's precisely the problem at the Human Rights Council. As President Trump said at the UN General Assembly, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the Human Rights Council."

Pompeo mentioned the organization's bias against Israel as being an example of the council's misplaced priorities.

"Today we need to be honest. The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy with many of the world's worst human rights abuses going ignored and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the Council itself," Pompeo said. "The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change. The Human Rights Council enables abuses by absolving wrongdoers through silence and falsely condemning those who have committed no offense."

Israel welcomes ‘courageous’ US pullout from UN Human Rights Council
Israel on Tuesday night welcomed an announcement that the United States will withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, praising the move as a “courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies” of the international body that UN ambassador Nikki Haley said harbors bias against the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US move, branding the council “a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.”

“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights. Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office also read. “The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough.”

The PMO said that “Israel thanks President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council.”

The statement followed Haley’s announcement that the US will leave the UNHRC, condemning the “hypocrisy” of its members and its alleged “unrelenting bias” against Israel.

Haley announced the decision alongside President Donald Trump’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Both insisted the United States would remain a leading champion of human rights.

Trump Happiness Montage

State Dept: U.S. Withdraws from UN Human Rights Council over Bias Against Israel
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday: "Today, we need to be honest - the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, the Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy - with many of the world's worst human rights abuses going ignored, and some of the world's most serious offenders sitting on the council itself. The only thing worse than a council that does almost nothing to protect human rights is a council that covers for human rights abuses and is therefore an obstacle to progress and an impediment to change."

"The council's continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable. Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined....When organizations undermine our national interests and our allies, we will not be complicit."

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: "It is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records....Therefore, as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council."
Haley: Human Rights Council nations back Israel — but only behind closed doors
In a cutting op-ed published Tuesday night, the US envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, excoriated the UN’s Human Rights Council for including repressive regimes and blocking investigations of human rights violations around the world. She also said that a wide range of countries talk about supporting Israel — but only in private settings.

The op-ed by the former South Carolina governor was published the The Wall Street Journal shortly after the Trump administration announced it would withdraw from the global body, citing, among other things, its “chronic bias against Israel.” It laid out more of the reasons for Washington’s departure from what she called “an organization unworthy of its name.”

The member nations’ intense focus on Israeli actions — coupled with its failure to address other countries’ malfeasance — was chief among them.

“In the past decade, this organization has passed more resolutions to condemn Israel specifically than to condemn Syria, Iran and North Korea combined,” Haley wrote.

That narrow focus on the Jewish state, she added, was reflected in the council’s refusal to eliminate its Agenda Item 7 (“the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”), which, she said, “targets Israel unfairly by mandating that each session include a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Bolton: Withdrawing from Human Rights Council Was ‘Decades in the Making’
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday the U.S. decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council was "decades in the making" and "clearly the right decision."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the decision to withdraw from the council on Tuesday. They cited the membership of known human rights abusers like China, Cuba, and Venezuela on the council, its fixation on condemning Israel and its inability or lack of desire to condemn true wrongdoers.

"This decision in many respects has been decades in the making," Bolton said on "Fox and Friends," calling the council a place where human rights were a priority. "It's clearly the right decision to get off. It's the right decision to defund the Human Rights Council."

Bolton said the U.S. was self-governing and didn't need advice from the U.N. or other international bodies on how to run itself. He noted he voted against creating the council when he served as U.N. Ambassador during the George W. Bush administration.

From 2006 to 2016, the Human Rights Council condemned Israel 68 times. In comparison, it condemned Syria 20 times and Iran six times.

"Israel is, as the saying goes, a canary in the mineshaft for the United States," Bolton said. "Countries that attack Israel do it because they think it's easier, but much of their criticism is really aimed at us."
Danny Danon: Trump and Nikki Haley are forcing the UN to change
All bureaucracies are slow to change, especially those most in need of such reforms. The United Nations is a case in point. Yet, despite its reluctance, the almost 73-year-old organization is finally feeling the winds of change, thanks to the United States.

The UN budget is bloated and priorities misplaced. This is why the United States, with the support of allies such as Israel, led the way in negotiating a $285 million reduction of the UN budget for 2018-2019. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also proposed his own reforms aimed at, among other things, increasing transparency and accountability.

But cutting waste isn’t enough. Real change will mean resetting the UN’s moral compass. That task, too, is being taken up by the Trump administration.

Since the president took office in 2017, his administration has made clear that blatantly anti-Israel actions at the UN will not go without a response. In March 2017, just two months after Ambassador Nikki Haley took office, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia issued an infuriating report declaring Israel an apartheid regime. Within hours, Haley and I issued public statements expressing our outrage.

The reactions were swift. UN officials quickly distanced themselves from the report, and two days later, agency chief Rima Khalaf quit.

A watershed moment occurred recently at the Security Council — the UN’s most significant organ. This was the very same body where an American abstention under the previous administration allowed the shameful Resolution 2334 to pass, designating the Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Old City as “a flagrant violation of international law.”
Hillel Neuer interviewed about U.S. withdrawal from UNHRC on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland

NY Daily News: The UN's human wrongs: In defense of Trump's Human Rights Council pullout
Liberal critics Tuesday took a break from assailing the Trump administration’s indefensible policy of tearing children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to howl about America’s withdrawal from the UN’s Human Rights Council.

The timing of the move sure stunk, coming just a day after the world body’s human rights chief decried the family separations.

But the UNHRC has been used as a tool of dictatorial regimes, and a weapon against Israel, for years.

Its members now include serial human-rights abusers Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba. Over a decade between 2006 and 2016, it chose to formally rebuke Israel, the country with the most robust democracy in the Mideast, 68 times. Second-place: Syria, 20 times. Fourth-place: North Korea, nine times.

There’s a case to be made for America to stay engaged in the council to decry its insanity. But don’t pretend Trump is shunning a noble institution.
Anne Bayefsky: Trump's wise decision to quit the UN Human Rights Council -- It's an oxymoron not worthy of our respect or support
There is no doubt that the U.N. Human Rights Council is a productive tool for anti-Semites. Discrimination against the Jewish state is baked into procedures and output as well as into its composition.

The council reserves one permanent agenda item for every one of its regular sessions for condemning only Israel. All other 192 U.N. member states are considered together under a separate item, if they are discussed at all.

The council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country on Earth, and nothing condemning almost 90 percent of the world’s states. The council has held more emergency special sessions on Israel than on any other country, including Syria – where at least 500,000 have died and up to 12 million people have been displaced.

But even beyond the disturbing fact that anti-Semitism thrives at the United Nations under the guise of human rights is that the “human rights” experts, the nongovernmental organizations and the academic entourage surrounding this whole apparatus, have the council’s back. For months, they have been flooding the airwaves and Haley and Pompeo’s email inboxes begging the Trump administration to stay on the council. In a nutshell, they make one basic point: the demonization of Israel, even if undeserved, is peripheral to the common good.

Pompeo and Haley have courageously decided to set them straight. Equal rights cannot be built on inequality for Jews and the Jewish state.

Playing minority groups against each other is not progress, it’s discrimination. And unless and until the common good has no Jewish exemption clause, the U.N. “Human Rights” Council is an oxymoron that does not deserve our respect or support.

The hypocrisy of the UNHRC
If the UNHRC was only influential in Arab nations or in China, it would not matter so much. The problem is that it is respected in western nations like Germany, France, Britain, and the U.S. that give the anti-Israeli body its legitimacy. The U.S. withdrawal from the UNHRC is good news. It is the beginning of delegitimizing a harmful entity based on attacking Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.

It is typical that the besmirched President Donald Trump is the one taking this important step – he and legendary U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who we are waiting with baited breath to announce her own candidacy for president.

We can compare these two to their predecessors, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and President Barack Obama. Obama had a very specific policy of aggrandizing the U.N. as representing a sort of superpower, and through it, he used Israel as a pawn and even struck the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

"Human rights cannot be used as a platform for national suicide," former Chief Justice Aharon Barak said. In this generation, human rights are being exploited to assist terrorism, particularly Palestinian terrorism. International law enforcement entities are vital. But if they operate under Palestinian pressure to criminalize Israel, the system could use a good shaking up.
Seth Frantzman: Is the UNHRC an 'old boys club' of dictators?
Overall our finding was that the council is not disproportionately controlled by dictatorships, it mostly represents the increasingly totalitarian state of the world. In fact, out of the 106 states that have served since 2007, 46 states considered “free” by Freedom House have served on the council.

More democracies have served, but they do not serve for as long because their regions tend to rotate them more, whereas the same dictatorships cling to their seats through deals and lobbying. But that doesn’t mean they dominate.

Dictatorships have held seats 28% of the time on the council, ranging from 10 to 14 out of the 47 seats annually. The last five years have been the worst in the council’s history in this respect, with more dictatorships serving, and Haley is correct that it is not getting better. This is a structural problem of the UN’s regional system and the fact there is no check and balance to a country’s human rights record preventing it from being on the council.

However, if the council were reserved only for countries with the best rights records it would largely be a European club and be open to criticism of discriminating against the global south.
45 rockets, mortars fired toward Israel; IDF retaliates with 25 airstrikes
Some 45 mortars and rockets were fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, some exploding in Israeli communities, following IDF strikes against Hamas military targets.

In response to the rocket and mortar fire, Israeli jets struck over 25 Hamas targets - including an underground training area - in four military compounds in three waves of retaliatory strikes wounding at least three Palestinians.

“The Hamas terrorist organization led a severe rocket attack on Israel's home front and is leading the Gaza Strip and its residents to deterioration and escalation,” read the statement. “Hamas is responsible for everything that is happening in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences for terrorist acts against Israeli citizens.”

On Wednesday afternoon an Israeli drone fired warning shots towards a group of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launching incendiary aerial devices into southern Israel. There were no reported injuries in the incident which came just hours after numerous sirens sounded throughout the night in communities bordering the coastal enclave.

Hamas Fires 45 Rockets From Gaza at Israeli Civilians

Frankfurt mayor defends Israeli response to Gaza rocket fire
Mayor of Frankfurt and long-standing Israel advocate Uwe Becker defended Israel's air strikes in response to rockets fired from Gaza on Wednesday, praising it for its "pinpoint accurate reactions" and its restraint despite frequent attacks emanating from the coastal enclave and a lack of international support.

"Imagine for a short moment that your country would be attacked by rockets day by day. Imagine that terrorists would send self-made firebombs attached to kites and gas-balloons towards your home, your garden or your kid´s kindergarten. Imagine terrorists would dig tunnels to infiltrate your country or break the borders to your country in violent riots with the aim to attack and kidnap you and your family," Becker pointed out on his Facebook account, posted alongside a picture of him at the Western Wall, going on to explain that exactly this is the reality for many Israeli families every day.

"How many years, months or weeks would you give your government while sleeping in a shelter? Not years, not months, not weeks but minutes or hours, right?"

"While other national governments would not hesitate to enter the region from where the own country is attacked, Israel is focusing on pinpoint accurate reactions against Hamas and other terrorist groups," Becker emphasized. "So Israel and its military forces concentrate on eliminating the sources of violence while Hamas is attacking Israeli families. [...] Israel is not the aggressor Israel is defending its people."

What's it like living under Hamas' rocket fire?

Red Cross: IDF fire causing 'unprecedented crisis'
Israel's use of live ammunition in defense of its border with the Gaza Strip has caused an "unprecedented crisis" in the Hamas-run enclave according to a Red Cross official.

Approximately 132 rioters and terrorists have been killed on the Gaza border since large scale riots began in March. Many of those killed were attempting to breach the border fence and break into Israel or engaged in attacks on Israeli soldiers.

The deadliest day of the riots occurred on May 14, when 62 rioters were killed. The Hamas terrorist organization acknowledged that 50 of those killed that day were members of the terror group.

Approximately 13,000 people have been injured or wounded, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Robert Mardini, the head of Middle East division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told reporters Monday that the "vast majority" of those hurt suffered "severe" injuries," including multiple gunshot wounds.

"This is I think a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in the Gaza Strip," said Mardini.
How did BBC News report the latest Gaza missile attacks?
Visitors to the BBC News website’s main homepage, its ‘World’ page or its ‘Middle East’ page on the morning of June 20th were all informed that the people who had fired forty-five military grade projectiles at Israeli civilian communities in the space of some five hours during the previous night are ‘militants’ rather than terrorists.

In typical ‘last-first’ style, the headline to the BBC News website’s report on that story read “Israeli jets strike Gaza after rocket and mortar fire” and the euphemism ‘militants’ was seen again.
“Israeli jets have hit militant positions in Gaza after Palestinians fired rockets and mortars into Israeli territory, the Israeli military said.

The military said 25 targets linked to the militant Hamas movement were hit, in response to a barrage of about 45 rockets and mortar shells.”

Quoting “Gaza’s health ministry” without informing readers that it is run by the same terror organisation which co-organises, funds and facilitates the ‘Great Return March’ agitprop, the report went on:
“The strikes follow weeks of confrontation along the Gaza border.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and thousands more wounded since a protest campaign began on 30 March, Gaza’s health ministry says.”

Readers were not informed that over 80% of those killed during the violent riots have been shown to be linked to assorted terror groups or that Hamas itself admitted that the vast majority of those killed on May 14th belonged to its organisation.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Left Outraged As Rabbi Rules Rockets From Gaza Need Not Be Returned To Hamas (satire)
Political and cultural figures railed against a Jewish religious leader today for informing an inquirer that he need not try to return to their previous known owners pieces of Hamas weaponry that he finds on the ground, despite overwhelming evidence who last held the items.

Activists and a handful of celebrities issued uniform criticism this morning of Rabbi Hefker Yiush, whose reply to an inquiry on the parameters of the commandment to restore lost objects to their owners was shared on social media. Several speakers accused the rabbi of racism and ethnocentrism.

“What a backward, supremacist view,” spat MK Tamar Zandberg of Meretz. “The people of Hamas have just as much attachment to their possessions as anyone else, and it is the height of hypocrisy and dehumanization to declare that the rules suddenly do not apply to items an Israeli finds in his back yard, or in close proximity to a daycare canter in Sderot – items that just so happen to have been in the possession of a non-Jewish organization in Gaza.”

“I know enough about Jewish law to realize that found objects with identifiable marks of ownership don’t automatically become the property of the finder,” sneered commentator Tomer Persico. “Anyone with a basic grasp of the internet can easily determine that the fragments of rockets they find all around the Gaza perimeter communities came from weapons in the possession of Hamas or one of the other militant groups operating within the Gaza Strip. It’s a special sort of bigot who rules that just because the rocket’s last known owner lives across the border, he doesn’t have any rights to the object anymore.”
Cash-strapped UN refugee agency to cut back operations in Gaza
Facing a major funding shortfall, the UN Palestinian refugee agency is planning to defer payment of salaries and suspend some of its operations in Gaza, an official said Tuesday.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees was thrown into severe financial crisis after the United States cut $250 million from its budget.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov told a Security Council meeting that UNRWA is “weeks away from painful cuts to its emergency assistance for Gaza and elsewhere in the region.”

“In Gaza, this would include a deferral of salaries to some of its workforce in July and the start of suspending core operations in August,” he added.

The United Nations on Monday will host a pledging conference for UNRWA in New York — the second such donors’ meeting in three months.

In March, it raised $100 million for UNRWA during a conference in Rome but fell short of the $446 million needed to keep the agency afloat.

Rare Gaza Strip Protest Directed At Hamas Ends In Familiar Way: Violence
Palestinians in the isolated enclave express frustration over ongoing divide with Abbas-ruled West Bank

Undercover Hamas operatives attacked Palestinian protesters on Monday during a march held in Saraya Square in the center of Gaza City.

The demonstration was part of the Prisoners Movement’s initiative to end the division between Hamas, the armed Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the political party that dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

More than a thousand participants, mainly from the families of Palestinian prisoners, took part in the peaceful march which aimed not only to end the divide but also to remove various sanctions—including the cutting of salaries and benefits of Gaza-based PA employees—imposed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in April.

One organizer of the march claimed that families from all of the Palestinian political parties had been invited. A protester further explained that organizers had spent one week trying to get an official permit for the event from Hamas authorities.

In a speech to the protesters, the Director General of the Internal Security Forces in the Gaza Strip, Tawfiq Abu Naim, maintained that there was no intention to prevent the proceedings and that no security forces were embedded among the participants.

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