John Kerry defended Israel in a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday, calling out the council for unfairly singling out the Jewish state for criticism.
“We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just in the [Human Rights Council], but wherever it occurs,” the U.S. Secretary of State said.
The UNHRC has a history of approving myriad resolutions against Israel, while devoting far less attention to other nations. The council’s permanent discussion Item 7 mandates that Israel be discussed at every UNHRC meeting, a distinction no other country shares.
The findings of a UNHRC investigation into Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer—a probe headed by Canadian academic William Schabas before he stepped down from the inquiry over a conflict of interest regarding work he performed for the Palestine Liberation Organization—is expected to be released soon. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the inquiry, calling the probe “one-sided” because it did not examine the actions of the Hamas terrorist group during the war.
“It must be said the [UNHRC’s] obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization,” Kerry said.
Kerry’s remarks come despite a rift between the U.S. and Israel on the issue of Iran as well as Israeli Prime Minister’s upcoming speech to Congress on Tuesday, which has been opposed by both the White House and some Democratic lawmakers on the grounds that House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting President Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Kerry downplayed the rift in an interview with the ABC program “This Week,” saying that Netanyahu “is welcome to speak in the United States.”