Sandell GenevaGeneva, March 20th, 2019 – ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell called on all European members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to denounce the anti-Israel bias in the work of the UN body which meets in Geneva this week for its first session of the year.

On Monday the UNHRC dedicated the whole working day to the so-called “agenda item 7”, accusing the State of Israel of multiple human rights violations, including “crimes against humanity”. Many human rights organisations, including the European Coalition for Israel (ECI), have called for item 7 to be deleted from the agenda, as it singles out only one country for special scrutiny, coincidentally the only Jewish state in the world, and is used systematically to condemn the actions of the only democracy in the Middle East. No other country is singled out in this way and this behaviour is paradoxically against the intended mission of the UNHRC.

This week the UNHRC presented seven reports on the human rights situation in Israel. In a new Gaza Commission of Inquiry report, Israeli soldiers are accused of “crimes against humanity” for defending the Gaza border against Hamas terrorists. In an emotional speech at the UN-Watch protest rally in Geneva, the former Chief Commander of the British troops in Afghanistan, Richard Kemp, called the inquiry “worthless”.
“Who else warns the civilian population before they plan to bomb terrorist targets? No nation has a more moral army than Israel, and they should be given the Nobel Peace Prize instead of being singled out for human rights violations here at the UN”, he said.

Kemp was one of a dozen diplomats, public intellectuals, members of parliament and social activists who spoke outside the UN Headquarters on Monday during lunchtime when the UNHRC were taking a break from its proceedings, enabling them to listen to speeches in the rally.

In his remarks Sandell noted that: “Israel does not bring death and destruction to the world as the UNHRC reports seem to indicate; on the contrary, Israeli technology and innovations are saving lives around the world. European civilians are today safer thanks to the assistance of the Israeli intelligence community in preventing more terrorist attacks from taking place in Europe.”

“So why then is Israel on trial for trying to protect its own civilian population from terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad?”, he asked. “The people of Israel deserve the same rights as other peoples. The UN should not encourage terrorists but rather support peace, democracy and human rights”, he concluded.

The rally was called by the Geneva based human rights organization UN-Watch and was moderated by its director Hillel Neuer. Among other speakers in the rally were Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Aviva Raz Shechter, Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dr. Dore Gold, US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, MEP Peter Niedermueller from Hungary, MP Kees van der Staaij from the Netherlands, MP Jan Bartošek from the Czech Republic, Dr. Einat Wilf from Israel and Journalist Philippe Val from France.

On Thursday ECI continues its advocacy work in support for equal rights for Israel under International Law by hosting ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker in Helsinki. Tucker, who is the director of the Hague Initiative for International Co-operation (thinc.), will be speaking in panel discussions in the national parliament as well as at the University of Helsinki on the same theme as in the rally in Geneva. Andrew Tucker is the co-author of the book “Israel on Trial: How International Law is being misused to delegitimize the State of Israel”.

For more information on the rally at the UN in Geneva please click here (video of Tomas Sandell’s speech). For more information about the ECI events in Helsinki on Thursday and Friday click here.