U.S.’ pullout from U.N. Human Rights Council “imminent”

Extensive talks with U.S. officials over much-needed reform to the United Nations Human Rights Council, reportedly failed to meet Washington’s demands, suggesting a possible American pullout from the body mandated with observing human rights around the world.

Since 2006, the U.N. council established a permanent standing agenda item on what its members claim are suspected violations committed by Israel within what the international community defines as “Palestinian territories.” Washington said on several occasions that the Council’s members are mostly opponents of Israel, prompting the boycott of the Human Rights body for three years under President George W. Bush, before rejoining under the Obama Administration in 2009.

After the 47-member forum voted last month in favor of condemning Israel for “excessive use of force” along the Gaza frontier, and demanded to set up a probe into the death of Palestinians rioting on Israel’s security fence; Jerusalem accused the U.N. body of spreading lies against Israel and reaching conclusions before evaluating the facts.

After the United States demanded a reform of the body’s focus, with US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley publicly informing about a year ago that Washington might leave the Human Rights Council unless a “chronic anti-Israel bias” were removed; the Council’s reluctance to change its focus from persecuting Israel, led to diplomats indicating a possible withdrawal “in the near future.” Diplomats warned, however, that a U.S. withdrawal could lead to Israel being even more isolated in the Human Rights Council and could bolster countries such as Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia who resist what they see as U.N. interference in sovereign issues. Nevertheless, diplomatic sources emphasized that it was not a question of ‘if’, but, ‘when’ the United States pulls out from the Human Rights Council, which has since its inception condemned Israel more times than the entire world combined.

It is important to note that while the European Union sought to align itself with the United States on the matter of the unproportionate bias against Israel, EU member states failed to find a common position, mainly due to Belgium’s wish to keep Israel firmly on the agenda of each session.