Conservative Party Vice-Chairman Andrew Bowie MP has called on the UK to take a “principled” stand against anti-Israeli bias at the United Nations Human Rights Council, in an article for the Jewish News.
The West Aberdeenshire MP and CFI Parliamentary Officer said that the UK’s “response to recent threats to our ally has been too muted”.
Referring to a recent meeting between CFI’s Parliamentary Officers and Middle East Minister James Cleverly, Andrew asserted that he and his colleagues has “expressed in clear terms the importance of the UK voting against all anti-Israel resolutions at the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNRHC)”.
The article outlined how bias was “rife” at the UNHRC with the body having adopted 90 resolutions against Israel since its inception, while only 10 have been adopted on Iran and zero on prolific human rights abusers such as China, Russia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
Recounting how as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson had condemned the UNHRC for its “disproportionate” focus on Israel, which he said was “damaging to the cause of peace”, Mr Bowie said it was time for the UK to “demonstrate our principled words through firm action and vote against all anti-Israel resolutions”.
The article welcomed the UK’s “enduring commitment” to vote against Agenda Item 7 – a permanent agenda item at every UNHRC session dedicated to Israel and the bodies only country-specific agenda item – but raised concerns over how the Palestinian Authority was now moving anti-Israel resolutions to other agenda items “in a procedural sleight of hand”.
He described the UK’s abstention on an anti-Israel motion in Agenda Item 2 in 2019 as “inexplicable” and by “allowing this student politics-style chicanery to go unchallenged” had “undermined its principled stand”.
Looking ahead to the UNHRC votes scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of March, he called on the Government to vote against all Israel-related motions “in the same way that we would vote against motions at UN bodies detrimental to our other allies”.
In FCDO Oral Questions this week, Robert Largan MP also called on the UK to vote against one-sided resolutions in order to “send a clear message that such blatant anti-Israel bias will not be tolerated”. Responding, the Foreign Secretary said UK had “stood up for Israel” against “politicised attacks in the UN and other forums”. He added that the UK would “continue to press for the abolition of item 7, because it is the only country-specific standalone agenda item and it focuses on Israel, and that cannot be right”.