Palestinians slam US after pullout from UN rights council

AFP , Wednesday 20 Jun 2018

Saeb Erekat
PLO official Saeb Erekat (Photo: Reuters)

A senior Palestinian official said Wednesday the United States was advancing "international anarchy" after it withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council over its alleged bias against Israel.

Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat said the US move aligned it with "Israel's colonisation of Palestine, rather than the rule of international law and UN resolutions."

The US on Tuesday announced its decision to leave the council, condemning the "hypocrisy" of its members and its alleged "unrelenting bias" against Israel.

The Geneva-based body was established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide, with its focus on Israeli behaviour towards Palestinians in the territory it occupies in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip infuriating Washington.

"The Trump administration continues its efforts to promote international anarchy by withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council," Erekat said in a statement.

He noted that the move came after the United States failed to "normalise" Israeli settlement expansion and "other systematic violations of Palestinian national and human rights".

Israel welcomed the US decision, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the UN Human Rights Council a "biased, hostile, anti-Israel organisation".

"Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East," Netanyahu said.

Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item at council meetings, one defended in particular by the Arab bloc of countries.

The Palestinians have frozen all official diplomatic ties with the United States since Trump's decision in December to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Erekat said the Palestinians would "continue to work with the international community and organisations" despite "the threats and tactics of intimidation and extortion by the Trump administration."

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