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Item 7: General Debate – Human Rights Council
March 24, 2009

UN Human Rights Council Tenth Regular Session

Item 7 General Debate

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Acting Political Counselor, Mark J. Cassayre
March 24, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States shares the international community’s concern about the humanitarian and human rights situation in Gaza and in Israel.  It is important to keep both the humanitarian concerns of the Palestinian people and the security of Israeli citizens in mind when considering this complex situation.  Both sides bear a responsibility to, at a minimum, ensure against the targeting of civilians as such and to comply with international law.

The United States welcomes the opportunity to reiterate that the aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples for peace and security will never be realized through violence; a better future for both peoples can be realized only by peaceful negotiations.  We again strongly urge the Human Rights Council to refrain from perpetuating an unbalanced approach to this conflict and the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories that singles out Israel exclusively for criticism.

This Council must remain balanced and objective in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.  The United States cautions against further one-sided resolutions against Israel while ignoring Hamas’ responsibility for allowing the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars into Israeli towns.  The United States strongly encourages the Council to seek out an alternative to highly politicized and unconstructive special sessions focusing solely on alleged violations of international law by Israel.  The Human Rights Council has far too often been exploited as a platform from which to single out Israel, while too often ignoring other human rights situations.  This unbalanced approach has endangered its credibility.

We seek to work with Members States to improve the Human Rights Council’s credibility on this issue and on the critical human rights issues of our time.  We welcome all of the cooperation the Human Rights Council can offer in meeting this challenge.

Thank you.