Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Israel will chair United Nations legal committee after decisive vote

By Lili Martinez - June 15, 2016
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [Human rights] [Occupation] [Geneva Conventions]

After a decisive vote on Monday, Israel has won the right to chair the United Nations legal committee, one of six permanent committees in the world body. The vote marks the first time Israel has been elected to lead a permanent committee since it joined the UN in 1949. The second-place winner, Sweden, garnered only 10 votes.

Israel’s role will be mainly procedural, but its margin of victory — 109 out of 175 valid votes cast — and its nomination by several countries to the position shows growing international support for “engaging” with Israel. In addition, the victory will allow it to cultivate a higher profile within the UN. Danny Danon, Israeli ambassador to the UN, will take the chairmanship. “I am proud to be the first Israeli elected to this position,” Danon said in a statement.


Danny Danon, new chairman of the United Nations legal comitee

Elections to the six standing committees — disarmament, economic and financial issues, human rights, decolonisation, the UN budget, and legal issues — are usually carried out by consensus and no vote is taken. In this instance, opponents to the Israeli candidacy called for a vote, hoping to avoid an Israeli win.

Israel recently transferred from the Asia-Pacific group within the U.N., which includes other Middle Eastern and Asian nations, to the Western European and Others Group. Its nomination to the legal committee came after this transfer.

“It’s a kind of joke that a country that has violated every single UN resolution [...] is now chairing a committee that has to do with the fourth Geneva Convention.

Xavier Abu Eid, chief spokesperson for the PLO, said the victory sends a clear message to the Palestinian people that the international community, and Europe especially, are not willing to take action to stop Israel from violating the law, offering rewards instead. “It’s a kind of joke that a country that has violated every single UN resolution [...] is now chairing a committee that has to do with the fourth Geneva Convention, protection of civilians, and everything that Israel has violated systematically — not as a matter of exception, but as a matter of policy,” he said to Palestine Monitor.

Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications and Media at the Prime Minister's Office and Spokesperson for the Prime Minister, said Danon’s election will be an obstacle to peace. His appointment “unmasks the government of Benjamin Netanyahu and reveals its true intentions,” he explained. “Mr. Danon has clearly said that his goal is to annex the West Bank with a minimum amount of Palestinians remaining in it.” Palestine, along with the Arab League and the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic cooperation, all opposed Israel’s election.

Abu Eid said there needs to be more international will appropriately punishing Israel for its continued violations of international law. With this vote, “Israel is not isolated — on the contrary, Israel is being engaged more and more as we enter into the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation. It sends a message that no matter what crimes Israel commits, they are going to continue to have impunity.”

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