WASHINGTON - Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman on Tuesday slammed the UN Human Rights Council, saying that its "ritualistic and virulent campaign against Israel is abhorrent and intolerable.
Gillerman's speech at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York was cut short, after the building's emergency alarm sounded. All those present in the Assembly hall were asked to vacate the premises immediately, and were escorted to the building's security shelters. The cause of the alarm has yet to be determined.
"Equally troubling is the Council’s resulting disregard for serious human rights violations in many other parts of the world, including among its own members," Gillerman added in his speech.
The Israeli ambassador accused the council of having a specific section in its guidelines meant to examine "the state of human rights in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories".
Israel contends that the wording of the guidelines completely excludes any deliberation on grave human rights violation in other countries around the world.
Right before the alarm cut his speech short, Gillerman told the Assembly that Israel is demanding it votes on the section as soon as this Thursday.
Gillerman accused the Commission on Human Rights of "moral bankruptcy". He noted that "after all, the Council’s membership includes some countries whose own records on human rights fall markedly below the standards of the international community, and who cannot genuinely serve as a beacon for human rights when their respective performances are so dismal and poor.
"According to Freedom House, more than half of the Council’s 47 members are considered 'not-free' or only 'partially free' countries. More importantly and most flagrantly, many of these same countries share a political agenda that precludes the State of Israel, and utterly dismiss our inherent right to live in peace and security in our homeland."
Bush also among critics
The Israeli ambassador noted that the Human Rights Council report had eliminated violations by countries like Cuba and Belarus.
"Countless others suffering around the globe, living under tyrannical rule and oppression and violated by human rights abusers, do not gain this Council’s attention.
"My delegation does not ask for special treatment. Israel, like any other country in this hall, should be subject to review and constructive criticism on a fair and impartial basis," Gillerman said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has been highly preoccupied with Israel's conduct in the territories; so much so that during the General Assembly's annual meeting last August, US President George W. Bush actually called on it to stop treating Israel as if it were the only country in the world where human rights aren't properly observed.