The United States was the only country in the world that voted Wednesday against the United Nations investigating human rights violations in Gaza unleashed by Israel’s military assault.
Of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council, 29 nations voted to set up a commission to launch an international, independent inquiry, effectively passing the resolution. Seventeen countries abstained, including Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
The inquiry will look at “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the occupied Gaza Strip in the context of military operations conducted since mid June,” according to a statement from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The council criticized Israeli military operations for perpetuating “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
U.S. ambassador to the Council, Keith Harper, said he issued the “no” vote because the resolution is a “biased and political instrument” that “will not help” the “cessation of hostilities.”
But Josh Ruebner, policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told Common Dreams that the U.S. vote simply “shows the great extent to which the U.S. goes to protect Israel in international forums from any accountability for its actions, no matter how egregious.” Ruebner added that U.S. claims of imbalance are illegitimate, as the inquiry will investigate human rights violations perpetrated by Hamas as well as Israel.
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Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies, told Common Dreams that the U.S. “no” vote is part of a larger pattern. “The U.S. is the reason why the United Nations is not able to play the role its charter requires, which is to stop the scourge of war,” said Bennis. “The U.S. vetoes and threatens to veto in the Security Council, and in arenas like the General Assembly or Human Rights Council where there is no veto, they threaten other countries.”
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