The United States condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday for a report published last week that accused Israel of perpetuating the conflict with the Palestinians.
In its 18-page report which focuses on the root causes of the conflict, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel identified “forced displacement, threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence, and the blockade of Gaza” as “contributing factors to recurring cycles of violence.”
The report was presented during a hearing at the UN Human Rights Council headquarters in Geneva.
While prompted by last year's Gaza war, the UN Human Rights Council inquiry mandate includes alleged human rights abuses before and after that.
The open-ended inquiry is headed by former United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay who is joined by Miloon Kothari of India, the first UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, and Australian international human rights law expert Chris Sidoti.
The U.S.-initiated declaration is signed by at least 22 countries, including Austria, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Brazil, and criticizes the broad authorities bestowed to the inquiry and cites its very existence as evidence of the disproportionate attention that the Human Rights Council dedicates to Israel, a treatment that it seeks to end.
The declaration follows lobbying by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, as well as other Israeli diplomats, including the Israeli delegation to the UN institutions in Geneva, headed by Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar, in a bid to discredit the inquiry and its findings.
After its release last week, the Foreign Ministry called the report "a waste of money and effort" that amounted to a witch hunt. Israel boycotted the inquiry, accusing it of bias and barred entry to its investigators.
The UN Human Rights Council has caught flak from Jerusalem and its allies for its often attacks on the Jewish state.
In 2018, the Trump administration decided to pull out of the Human Rights Council, with one of the reasons given being "its chronic bias against Israel." The U.S. later resumed its position as a full member of the human rights body under the Biden administration.