US reconsidering UN council membership, urges body to end Israel 'obsession'

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

New York [USA], Mar. 2 (ANI): President Donald Trump's administration has confirmed it is reviewing the United States' participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), warning Wednesday that it wants the body to reform its agenda and end its "obsession with Israel." According to Fox News, Washington critics have argued that the council unfairly targets Israel over allegations of human rights violations and alleged war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The United States ... remains deeply troubled by the Council's consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel. No other nation is the focus of an entire agenda item. How is that a sensible priority?," Erin Barlacy, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State, told the UNHRC in Switzerland. Barclay also questioned why the council was not taking action on other international matters including claims that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government is bombing hospitals and that North Korea and Iran are denying citizens freedom of "religion ... of peaceful assembly and association, and of expression." "As we consider future engagements, my government will be considering the Council's actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the Council's mission to protect and promote human rights," she said. Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren welcomed reports that the U.S. might withdraw and said the move would send a "moral message" to the world. The United States is currently an elected member of the 47-member council. The council was set up in 2006 as a successor to the Human Rights Commission but, at the time, the Bush administration refused to join the new body. However, the Obama administration reversed course and applied for membership, arguing it could do more good and influence decisions from the inside. (ANI)