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Geneva, 20 June 2023

A Wiesenthal Centre delegation, led by Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, was present today at a UN Human Rights Council session on the Commission of Inquiry (COI), purportedly focussing on “investigating human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and in Israel,” particularly in relation to civil society, media and NGOs.

In truth, the COI is consistently targeting Israel – accused, among other heinous crimes, of “harassment, colonialism, deportation, arbitrary detention and killing, smearing campaigns, infringement of privacy and apartheid...” – while blatantly downplaying any human rights violation of the “Palestinian Authority” and the “de-facto authority in Gaza” (euphemistic definition of terrorist group Hamas).

Because of its open-ended mandate – meaning unprecedented perpetual funding from UN member-States – and one-sided attacks on Israel, the COI is criticized by a growing number of countries – presently 27, led by the United States – that question the COI’s impartiality and independence, and ultimately call for its review and eventual termination.

The 27 are: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Croatia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Eswatini, Fiji, Guatemala, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, North Macedonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Togo, the UK and the USA. Other countries expressed similar grievances today.

UN Human Rights Commissioner, appointed head of the COI, Navi Pillay, appears blind to their position. She depicts a general consensus for a guilty verdict against Israel.

The COI’s Special Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari, was quoted: “Why is Israel even a member of the United Nations?” ... and claims “social media that is controlled largely by the Jewish lobby,” relaying clear antisemitic tropes.

Over the years attending UNHRC sessions, the Wiesenthal Centre became used to “bloc consensus” – whereas the Arab States or the Latin Americans or Europe would each vote together for regional solidarity, with few exceptions.

Today, we witnessed the hate-fest of an asymmetric bloc of about 30 anti-Israel hardliners, all repeating the same mantra of accusations. This was exemplified by the Permanent Observer of “Palestine” cuddling up to nations such as Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria and China... all countries where human rights, democracy and the rule of law are chronically absent!

The 27 critics of the COI fear that its one-sided bias towards Israel is tantamount to a “provocation to violence” and calls for accountability of the UN Human Rights Commission.

Please find attached Dr Samuels’ brief speech regarding the COI, presented today at the 53rd UNHRC session.


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