With a 64% majority, the automatic anti-Israel states turned UNHRC irrelevant

Despite the disappointment of abandonment from countries friendly to Israel at the UN Human Rights Council, some impressive diplomatic achievements were noted.
Col. Richard Kemp delivers statement to UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza (May 18, 2018)

Germany and Britain disappointed Israel just as much by opting to abstain rather than oppose the resolution, which Israel considers to be disgraceful. It is likely the Germans are seeking to avoid any additional division in the EU in the midst of the Brexit crisis. The British ambassador did propose to form an Israeli commission of inquiry with international representatives, but his proposal was rejected. Three additional European countries abstained—Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.

The Foreign Ministry will also have to find answers for the stinging insult from Mexico, which voted in favor of the resolution, even though it has recently changed its anti-Israeli voting patterns—voting with Israel or abstaining from several important votes. Israel is also bitterly disappointed with the Philippines, which voted in favor of the resolution even though the country is considered very friendly towards Israel under President Rodrigo Duterte.


There were some achievements

There was, however, some comfort in the choice made by four African countries to abstain from the vote—Ethiopia, Rwanda, Togo and Kenya—which is considered an achievement of Israeli diplomacy, as do the abstentions of Japan, South Korea, Georgia and Panama—whose president is currently visiting Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to Jerusalem, May 17, 2018. – Photo: Haim Zach, GPO

Ukraine, which in December 2016 voted in favor of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements, sparking a diplomatic crisis with Israel, chose this time to rectify the damage by missing the vote along with Mongolia. Australia, a country very friendly towards Israel, also deserves praise for choosing to vote against the resolution along with the UnitedStates.


The next challenge

But this isn’t the only trouble for Israel on the international stage these days. Kuwait has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for an international force to be deployed to the Gaza Strip to protect the Palestinians, and the council is expected to discuss the matter on Monday. Even if the Kuwaiti are able to get the nine required votes to pass a resolution in the council—which is not a sure thing—the United States will veto it.In such a case, Kuwait could choose to take the resolution to the UN General Assembly, where it has an automatic majority to pass any resolution it wants. Luckily for Israel, the General Assembly has no way of enforcing the anti-Israeli decision it approves.

The bottom line is that while the UNHRC resolution was not pleasant for Israel, it’s not the end of the world. Israel shouldn’t panic in light of the impressive backing from the US and the relatively small diplomatic damage from the events on the Gaza border. The crisis with Turkey was to be expected, mostly due to the upcoming elections in which Turkish President Erdoğan wants to reposition himself as the leader of a regional power.