(JTA) — The United States for a second straight year did not send a representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s annual discussion.
The U.S. no-show at Monday’s session on Item 7, a discussion by the council of Israel’s alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians, was portrayed by some as being a part of a rift with Israel. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it asked the United States not to attend. Israel also did not send a delegation.
The item appears each year on the agenda of the Human Rights Council’s debate in Geneva.
At the session, dozens of countries and NGOs spoke against Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.
Keith Harper, the U.S. ambassador to the Human Rights Council, said in a statement issued Monday that the U.S., “in support of Israel, made no statement” at the debate.
“Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking,” the statement said. “The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it.”
Harper added that the United States remains “deeply troubled” by the item directed against Israel “and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item. No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it.”
Monday’s session had been scheduled to deal with the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict. However, the panel earlier this month received a three-month extension to present its report.
The delay was due in part to the resignation last month of the former head of the commission, William Schabas, after Israel provided evidence to the Human Rights Council that he had authored a seven-page legal opinion on behalf of the PLO for which he was paid.