(JTA) — In a major policy reversal by Western members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, all its European Union member states voted against a permanent item singling out Israel.
The vote Friday was the first time that EU members states, plus Brazil and Japan, have voted against Item 7 — a recurrent draft resolution that is the only permanent item on the agenda singling out any one nation.
The EU states currently on the council are Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The draft resolution passed, despite the Western opposition: while 16 opposed it, including Australia, 26 were in favor.
Whereas European nations in recent years have abstained by and large in votes on Item 7 at Human Rights Council sessions, this year they made a joint stand against the item, citing its “imbalance,” as the representative of Bulgaria said in a statement representing the bloc. (Five nations on the council abstained.)
It was also the first time that Brazil voted against Item 7, which it has tended to support.
The Palestinian representative told the Council: “If you protect Israel, it will destroy you all.” He also said Israel’s character as a Jewish state is “shameless racism.”
Item 7 comprises four resolutions. One states that the Council is “deeply concerned at the suffering of the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan due to the systematic and continuous violation of their fundamental and human rights by Israel since the Israeli military occupation of 1967.” It does not mention the slaughter of Syrians by their government and other forces involved in fighting in Syria.
In a tweet on Thursday, President Trump signaled that the U.S. may officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, breaking with decades of American policy.
Another part of Item 7 “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately end its occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
The third expresses “grave concern at the continuing violations of international humanitarian law and the systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, the occupying Power.”
The fourth, titled “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories,” does mention terrorism, but only by “extremist Israelis.”
A total of five critical but nonbinding resolutions, including one supporting an arms embargo on Israel, were passed about the Jewish state during the 40th session of the Council. It was the highest number of negative resolutions passed about any individual country during the session.
In an earlier vote, all EU countries on the Council except the United Kingdom voted against adopting a U.N. report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza. The British delegate abstained along with India and Iceland, two nations that in the past have voted in favor of critical resolutions singling out Israel. Ukraine, Brazil and Australia were among the eight countries that voted against the resolution, which passed with a majority of 23 yes votes and 15 abstentions.
Israel dismissed the report as factually incorrect and displaying “clear evidence of political bias” against it.
Last year, the United States pulled out of the Human Rights Council. Nikki Haley, then the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, called the council a “cesspool of political bias.”