Palestinians and fellow Muslim countries have lashed out a UN decision to elect Israel as the chairman of one of its permanent committees for the first time in the history of Israeli occupation.
Danny Danon, Israel’s representative at the United Nations, was elected Monday to head the world body’s Legal Committee also called the Sixth Committee, which oversees issues related to international law.
It is the first time that Tel Aviv will head one of the world body’s six permanent committees since joining the United Nations in 1949.
Danon’s election, however, elicited angry reactions from Muslim countries, including those in the Arab League and 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The chief Palestinian delegate at the UN, Riyad Mansour, strongly denounced the results of the election, saying it is “threatening the work of the Sixth Committee.”
Mansour said the Israeli regime has long been “the biggest violator of international law.”
The General Assembly has six standing committees that report to it on several issues, including human rights, decolonization, disarmament, economic and financial issues, as well as the UN budget and legal issues.
Danon was nominated for the position by the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in the UN. Israel has been a temporary member of the WEOG since 2000, but joined the group permanently in December 2013.
Palestinian families waiting at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, after it was opened for two days by Egyptian authorities, on May 11, 2016. © AFP
The chairmanship of assembly is allocated on a rotational basis and is usually confirmed without a vote.
Deputy US Ambassador to the UN David Pressman reacted angrily to the opponents of Danon’s election.
“We need a United Nations that includes Israel, that brings Israel closer, not one that systematically pushes Israel away.”
However, the UN warned Israel of unspecified action over its failure to cooperate with its reporters.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein slammed Tel Aviv for denying UN special rapporteurs access to the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“I must emphasize that non-cooperation by governments will not result in my office remaining silent,” he said.
He said investigators from his office had an important role in providing factual information that could prevent further violence.
Zeid also touched on the issue of the Palestinians held in Israel’s prisons, saying; “Over 400 Palestinian children are currently detained in Israeli prisons.”
He warned that violence could would break out again between Israeli forces and the Palestinian people unless the regime lifts the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Gaza, one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007.