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Debunking Israel's UN-bias claims

Debunking Israel's UN-bias claims
From Al Jazeera - August 13, 2017

Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, made headlines in June when she denounced what she claimed was a pattern of "anti-Israel" behaviour at the UN.

"I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time," she said. "We are not going to let that happen any more. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations."

While Haley's words were music to Israeli leaders' ears and echoed long-standing talking points of pro-Israel advocacy groups, analysts say there is little substance to her allegations that, in the words of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israel has been "the UN's punching bag".

According to human rights lawyer Noura Erakat, the attention given to Israel/Palestine at the UN harkens back to a particular historical moment in the 1960s and 1970s, when "national liberation movements and newly decolonised countries used the UN as a site of protest" against "imperialistic" Western politics.

While issues concerning Namibia, South Africa, Cape Verde, Vietnam, Laos and others have in one way or another been resolved, Erakat told Al Jazeera, "the only one that has not is Palestine".

READ MORE: UN chief - 'No alternative' to Palestine-Israel solution

In 2016, the UN Security Council's activity focused on the likes of North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Somalia and Libya. Sudan and South Sudan produced the most Security Council resolutions last year, with 11, while just one resolutiondealt with Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It was the first in almost eight years.

It is a different story, however, elsewhere within the UN, where Israel faces frequent condemnation for its actions through bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

"Undoubtedly, the UNHRC and General Assembly do devote disproportionate attention to Israel/Palestine," South African international law professor John Dugard, the UN's former special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, told Al Jazeera.

"But this must be viewed in the context of the UN political organs as a whole," Dugard added. "The Security Council and Quartet on the Middle East [UN, European Union, United States and Russia] are notoriously pro-Israel and refuse to pay adequate attention to Palestinian issues."

The UN's top official for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,an office that "represents the secretary-general and leads the UN system in all political and diplomatic efforts related to the peace process". The post comes under the authority of both the secretary-general, as well as the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), headed by US diplomat Jeffrey Feltman.

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