The United States said Monday that it "strongly and unequivocally opposes" a discussion at the UN Human Rights Council on "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories," with the State Department saying the agenda item showed the council's bias against Israel.
"Today’s actions in the Council are yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel," State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement. "No other nation has an entire agenda item dedicated to it at the Council. The continued existence of this agenda item is among the largest threats to the credibility of the Council."
The US therefore decided not to attend the discussion on the matter and to vote against any resolution put forth under that agenda item, saying it "does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter."
Earlier this month, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay told the council in Geneva that the Trump administration was reviewing its participation in the council, with an eye to reform and a balanced agenda that ends the forum's "obsession with Israel."
"The obsession with Israel through Agenda Item 7 is the largest threat to this council's credibility. It limits the good we can accomplish by making a mockery of this council," Barclay said.
She stressed that "The United States will oppose attempts to delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just in the HRC, but wherever it occurs. When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from scrutiny, but neither should any democratic country be regularly subjected to unfair, unbalanced and unfounded bias."
The United States is currently an elected member of the 47-state Geneva forum where its three-year term ends in 2019.
Reuters contributed to this report.
(Edited by Yaara Shalom)