Following publication by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a “blacklist” of businesses operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is calling on the Australian Government to maintain its principled stance towards fairness at the UN and condemn the list.
The list was published overnight by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. It comprises mostly Israeli companies, the bulk of which provide essential services and employ both Israelis and Palestinians. These companies include public transport providers, energy suppliers and telecommunications firms, among others.
It is an unprecedented move by the UN Human Rights Council, of which Australia is a current member. The UN Human Rights Council has not released similar lists of companies operating in other occupied territories, such as Turkish-occupied Cyprus or the occupied Ukrainian territories. It is also not a breach of international law for these companies to operate in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“This is the ultimate sign of hypocrisy and bias by the UN Human Rights Council,” Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC executive director, said.
“These are legitimate businesses providing goods and services to the populations on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they are not breaking any international laws.”
“This is yet another example of the obsessive targeting of Israel in the UN Human Rights Council, ahead of all other human rights situations around the world.”
“The Australian Government has stood for fairness and against bias in the UN Human Rights Council during its current term as member,” Dr Rubenstein added. “AIJAC urges the Government to condemn this blacklist for what it is: a witch hunt that reminds us of Nazi-era boycotts of Jewish people.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have previously spoken out against the UN’s Israel-bias, including in the UN Human Rights Council.
In December 2018, Morrison said:
“This year, the UN Human Rights Council passed six motions condemning Israel, compared to a total of 14 across the rest of the world.
“And last month, at my direction, Australia opposed six resolutions that attacked Israel in the UN General Assembly. These included the ‘Jerusalem’ resolution, which contains biased and one-sided language attacking Israel and denies its historical connection to the city, and the ‘Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine’ resolution, which confers on the Palestinian Authority a status it does not have. In the past, we had abstained on these resolutions. Not anymore and not on my watch.
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. We all know that principle.
“We won’t turn a blind eye to an antisemitic agenda masquerading as a defence of human rights as a nation like Australia.”
Foreign Minister Payne told the UN Human Rights Council on 25 February 2019:
“It is our firm view that a separate agenda item focussing on a single country situation –in this case Israel – is inappropriate. It does not occur in any other context, for any other country.”