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U.S. Urges HRC to Take Balanced, Constructive Approach to Human Rights in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Item 7 General Debate, Human Rights Council 19th Session
March 19, 2012

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

As Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe


Thank you, Madame President.

The goal of the United States remains a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.   Ending the underlying conflict is vital to addressing the human rights issues in Israel and the Palestinian territories and forging a comprehensive peace.  As President Obama stated in his address to the General Assembly, “a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.  Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them.”  We are working closely with the Quartet on our shared goal – resumed direct meetings between the parties in fulfillment of the goals outlined by the Quartet last September.  The recent three weeks worth of direct discussions between the parties, hosted by Jordan, showed promise and included some meaningful exchanges.  We want these talks to continue.

We believe strongly that our focus should be on urging the parties to continue their engagement in this dialogue, and we seize this opportunity in order to make progress as quickly as possible.

Let there be no doubt, the United States believes that the Palestinian people must be able to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign and contiguous state.  It is because of that belief that we have invested so much time and effort in the building of a Palestinian state and the negotiations between the parties.  The United States remains committed to supporting the efforts of humanitarian agencies, including the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which addresses the critical needs of five million Palestinian refugees, and we urge our fellow Council members to join us in doing so.

The United States continues to be deeply troubled by this Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by this standing agenda item.  As we have said in the past, the Human Rights Council must treat all countries by the same standards.  This standing agenda item is yet another reminder of the unfair treatment that one UN member state receives in this Council.

The effectiveness and legitimacy of this Council can never be complete as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out for its own agenda item.  The hypocrisy of this item is further amplified by the resolutions brought under it, including a resolution on the “human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan,” motivated by the Syrian regime at a time when it is murdering its own citizens.  The United States implores Council members to eliminate these biased resolutions and the permanent agenda item focused on one country.  The human rights record of all states must be addressed under a robust common rubric.

We urge this Council to take a balanced, objective and constructive approach to the human rights situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.  It is our sincere hope that this Council will eliminate this agenda item, as we have called for in the past.

Thank you, Madame President.