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Israel to slash $2 million in contributions to UN over recent UNHCR resolutions

March 30, 2017 5:42 P.M. (Updated: March 31, 2017 11:32 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s Foreign Minister was reportedly instructed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to slash $2 million from Israel’s contributions to the UN in protest of the adoption of four resolutions in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week addressing issues of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

Calling the resolutions “hostile proposals,” Israeli media outlet Ynet reported that the former UN contributions would instead “be used to deepen and expand Israeli projects in the field of international assistance and will be invested in developing countries that support Israel in international institutions.”

Thirty-six member states voted in favor of the resolution that criticized illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, according to Israeli daily Haaretz

Nine states had abstained, and only two states -- the United States and Togo -- opposed the resolution.

The Council also adopted three other motions at the time. A resolution that aims to ensure accountability for human rights violations committed by Israel in the occupied West Bank, besieged Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem was passed with the approval of 30 member states, with two against and 15 abstaining.

The second resolution, concerning the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, was passed almost unanimously, with 43 states voting in favor, two abstaining, and two voting against the resolution.

A third resolution that dealt with the status of Palestinian human rights in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem passed with 41 states voting in favor, four abstaining, and two voting against it.

Another resolution condemned Israel for its violations of the human rights of Druze residents of the Golan Heights.

In a statement following the adoption of the resolutions, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi expressed “deep appreciation” to the UNHRC members for assuming a "principled, courageous, and just stand” in voting in favor of the resolutions.

She highlighted in particular a motion that called on states "not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements," which urged business enterprises “to avoid contributing to the establishment, maintenance, development, or consolidation of Israeli settlements.”

She described the resolutions as “a true investment in justice and signifies the international community’s commitment to seeking accountability for Israel’s unlawful unilateralism and violations of international law."

Ynet reported that the funds were cut to the UN due to the resolutions being “part of an Israeli campaign together with allies and headed by the United States, to correct the obsessive discrimination against Israel at the UN and its agencies.”

Israel has often claimed that criticism for its longstanding policies in the occupied Palestinian territory -- which include sustaining a half-century military occupation in the West Bank, a decade-long siege on the Gaza Strip, and unfettered Israeli settlement building on Palestinian territory in violation of international law -- amount to discrimination from the international community.

After the US allowed a resolution to pass at the UN Security Council, which reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, during the final days of the Obama administration, the US House of Representatives under the newly instated Donald Trump presidency approved a bipartisan resolution rejecting the UN resolution.

The resolution reaffirmed US commitment as a diplomatic ally to the Israeli government and demanded that the US government dismiss any future UN resolutions they deemed “anti-Israel.”

Meanwhile, critics have pointed out that while multiple UN resolutions have condemned Israeli policies in the Palestinian territory, there has been a lack of political will to enforce such measures, with Israeli authorities in 2016 approving thousands of new settler units on occupied Palestinian land and allocating millions of dollars to the expansion of settlements.

Furthermore, a report published recently by a UN agency that accused Israel of imposing apartheid policies against Palestinians -- the first time a UN organization explicitly used the term "apartheid," which human rights groups have long used to describe Israeli policies -- was withdrawn at the bidding of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, reportedly following pressure from Israel and other UN member states.
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