Netanyahu praises Trump, Pompeo, Haley for exiting UN council

Israel praised the US for its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, while other countries and organizations expressed opposition and disappointment.  

By: World Israel News and AP

Israel welcomed the US announcement that it was withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) due to its anti-Israel bias.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement thanking President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for “their courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council.”

“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights,” Netanyahu charged. “Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.”

He noted that the US decision to “leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the announcement, stating that the UNHRC “has long been the foe of those who truly care about human rights around the world.”

“The United States has proven, yet again, its commitment to truth and justice and its unwillingness to allow the blind hatred of Israel in international institutions to stand unchallenged,” he added.

Danon thanked Trump, Pompeo and Haley for “their leadership” and called on “the moral majority at the UN to hold all of its institutions accountable.”

Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanebi thanked the American leadership for the move while noting that it was “a shame” that “the world’s worst human rights abusers have used what should be a valuable institution to repeatedly and unjustifiably condemn Israel while simultaneously ignoring actual atrocities.”

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council “notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world’s most oppressive countries.”

Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow, pointed out that Trump could have withdrawn immediately after taking office but instead gave the council 18 months to make changes.

There were also critics

UNHRC chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian, tweeted that it was “disappointing, if not really surprising, news. Given the state of human rights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

Russia’s UN mission said in a statement that the US exit from the council reflected Washington’s unilateralist approach to global affairs.

It said the US had tried but failed to turn the body into an “obedient instrument for advancing their interests and punishing the countries it dislikes,” and that American criticism of the body for failing to make changes advocated by Washington appeared “cynical.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the US withdrawal was “regrettable” and that the UK’s support for the council remained steadfast.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the UK wants to see reform of the Human Rights Council, but we are committed to working to strengthen the council from within,” Johnson said in a statement.

‘All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel’

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift. A group of 12 organizations, including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA, said there were “legitimate concerns” about the council’s shortcomings but that none of them warranted a US exit.

“This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

“All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.