News / USA

    Kerry Blasts UN Council's 'Obsession' With Israel

    Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, March 2, 2015.
    Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, March 2, 2015.
    Pamela Dockins

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for what he calls its “obsession with Israel.”

    In a Monday speech in Geneva before the U.N. intergovernmental body, Kerry said the group’s heavy focus of Israel’s human rights records “risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.”

    “We will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the U.N. system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate, Israel,” Kerry said. He said no country should be free from scrutiny on human rights, but no country should be subjected to “unfair or unfounded bias.”

    Kerry commented a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to make a controversial speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in Washington.

    Netanyahu is expected to denounce a potential agreement between world powers and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program, saying the deal would give Iran too many concessions and leave it with the ability to make a nuclear weapon.

    Invitation causes rift

    In a break of U.S. protocol, Netanyahu was invited by U.S. Republican House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress, instead of an invitation issued by the White House.

    In spite of the tensions between the White House and Israel over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, the U.S. is continuing its efforts to back Israel in the Human Rights Council.

    A senior State Department official said a “constant preoccupation and concern” for the U.S. is the “undue and biased focus on Israel” in the Human Rights Council.

    Israel is the only country that “has a standing agenda item at the Human Rights Council,” the official said. “Our position is always very much in defense of Israel, in protection of Israel’s interests at the Human Rights Council."

    The official also said that the biggest U.S. concern in the current UNHRC session is its upcoming release of the Commission of Inquiry on Gaza. The report, which is due to be released before March 23, will focus on Israel’s 50-day war against Gaza militants in July and August of 2014.

    Gaza conflict

    About 2,200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis died during the conflict. Most of the Palestinians killed were civilians, while nearly all of the Israelis were military personnel.

    Earlier this month, the man appointed by the Human Rights Council to lead the inquiry into potential war crimes committed during the Israel-Gaza conflict resigned.

    William Schabas submitted his resignation after Israel accused him of bias because he has performed consultant work for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also called for the entire Human Rights Council probe into the conflict to be scrapped. He said the three-member commission that was charged with investigating whether Israel had committed war crimes during the conflict, was an “anti-Israel body.”

    Kerry denounces North Korea

    During his speech, Kerry also cited North Korea’s human rights record, saying tens of thousands of people in the country live as “virtual slaves” in 2015, with no freedom of expression. He also said the government “routinely” tortured and starved citizens.

    Kerry also highlighted atrocities committed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

    Earlier in the session, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addressed the group. He said “Islamophobia” is “tolerated” in some countries as freedom of expression.

    He also said some defenders of human rights were overly driven by political considerations.

    Zarif noted that some of those Islamic State militants who have beheaded “innocent civilians” spoke “European languages with native accents.”

    Israel's security

    Speaking to reporters following his speech to the U.N. council, Kerry stressed that Israel’s security is at the forefront of all nuclear program negotiations. He said any agreement must close all pathways Iran would have toward acquiring fissile material.

    “We will not accept a bad deal. We have said no deal is better than a bad deal, because a bad deal could actually make things less secure and more dangerous," he said. "Any deal that we would possibly agree to would make the international community, and especially Israel, safer than it is today. That is our standard.”

    Kerry and Zarif are to hold a series of meetings in Switzerland to discuss the potential plan, which is being negotiated by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.

    Zarif told reporters in Geneva that a deal could be concluded this week if the negotiating sides have sufficient political will and agree to remove sanctions on Tehran.

    "If they want an agreement, sanctions must go," he told Reuters. “Sanctions, they have to realize, are not an asset, have never been an asset, they are liability and this liability, the sooner they remove this liability from the table, the sooner we will get to an agreement."

    Some members of the U.S. Congress are pushing for tougher sanctions on Iran as a way of getting Teheran to drop its nuclear weapons program, but Kerry has said he does not agree with that strategy.

    Lisa Schlein contributed to this report from Geneva.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 4
    by: JohnWV from: USA
    March 09, 2015 7:25 AM
    Of today's Americans, 2% are Jews. Of today's American millionaires, 50% are Jews. As in Weimar Germany, they are organized and cunningly extract enormous amounts of money from our economy without contributing value. Wall Street has become a Jewish run casino serving itself and Jewry. Our news media is mostly Jewish owned and blatantly Israel/Jew biased. Our electoral process has been corrupted by AIPAC, the Jewish Conference of Presidents and more enormous amounts of Jewish money.

    Israel has occupied not just Palestine, but America too. The Wall Street felons remaining unpunished, AIPAC actually writing congressional legislation, and lack of treason indictments attest to the depth of the occupation. The Jewish state instigated 9/11, all our Mideast wars, and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. Our diminished America is now being quietly overthrown from within and transformed into a world dominating racist ultra-power, the JEWISH STATE OF AMERICA.

    by: JohnWV from: USA
    March 09, 2015 7:23 AM
    All the time, the Jewish state “defends itself” by invading neighboring countries: Israel (Mideast Jewish terrorists through today's “Israel Defense Force”) has preemptively invaded Palestine 1948, Syria 1951, Egypt 1956, Egypt 1967, Syria 1967, Jordan 1967, Lebanon 1978, Iraq 1981, Lebanon 1982, Lebanon 1986, Lebanon 2006, Palestine 2008 and repeatedly the already besieged State of Palestine 2014. Iran has not invaded any country for hundreds of years.

    Israel's preemptive “defends itself” is actually initiating violence and terrorism to abet illegal seizure and annexation of territory. Israel instigated 9/11, all our Mideast wars, and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. The Jews are, and always have been, the Mideast terrorists.

    by: Larry Linn from: los angeles
    March 04, 2015 10:49 AM
    What can the United States or Israel do to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? The nuclear development facilities in Iran are underground. Iran has the abilities to obtain whatever materials that are needed. The United States cannot stop tons of drugs entering the borders on a daily basis. Netanyahu cannot even defeat Hamas. Realistically, the best course of action is to use diplomacy to prevent Iran from utilizing such weapons with both positive and negative incentives.

    by: Beren from: France
    March 03, 2015 7:20 PM
    First I was not trying to say America is on it's own Jews have large amounts of control in Europe also.
    I don't say this as a anti-Semite I have quite a few Jewish friends in Israel along with Palestinian Arabs who are friends.

    I don't care if somebody is black, white, striped or plain wrong is wrong
    I disagree with the theory from one reply to my first post that Arabs will take charge in France as there has always been a large Arab population here because of the territories France had.The same in the UK where I originate from.
    There has always been anti-Semitism and Arab haters and unfortunately always most likely will be.

    I don't see how Israel who as everybody knows has nuclear weapons illegally aided by America has the right to say who should and should not have them.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 05, 2015 5:33 AM
    Didn't Israel lobby for Iraq war? Well that turned out well. Iran has yet to invade to another country? I guess peaceful Israel is fantasy like rest of argument.
    In Response

    by: mike from: usa
    March 04, 2015 4:50 PM
    Because Israel has never, in any instance made its goal the destruction of another nation or people. The same cannot be said about Iran. Obviously other nations in the world have nukes and are responsible with them. So its not like Israel is trying to have a monopoly on then or something. It's just they can't take the chance or risk of waiting to see what will happen if Iran gets the bomb. We'really not talking about individuals here, this is whole nations, and you can't always play nice or fair. I hate that it's that way but it is.
    In Response

    by: Paul Whelberg
    March 04, 2015 6:14 AM
    What bipolar attitude to Iran and Israel, if you're going to lie at least be partial. Half of post is ranting on others about sources while not providing any of your own name calling insults on Iran. Says something about the person tell us Israel is innocent here? haha.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 04, 2015 6:07 AM
    Gene, is liar, I think he gets paid to post judging by his responses to every post so ignore him. He get cynical at the sight of Israel's allegation then goes off assumed facts and wild accusation, while asking others for sources and evidence? Israeli dishonesty eh? The arrest of Mordechai Vanunu already exposed Israel has WMD's. Iran on the otherhand has yet to attack another country. Apparently, trusting a country with so far has reckless disregard of international is not morally hazardous but unethical too.
    In Response

    by: Gene from: Texas USA
    March 04, 2015 4:47 AM
    Beren from France: Your statement that everyone knows Israel
    has nuclear weapons assumes facts not in evidence. I don't
    know that Israel has nuclear weapons and neither do you.
    Neither Israel or America has ever admitted to such a thing.

    Here is a case if we gave the right to produce a nuclear weapon
    to a rogue, mad dog country intent on destroying the world in
    the name of Islam, there would be no one left alive. I worry
    about staying alive first of all. I will worry about Iran's "rights"
    In Response

    by: David from: US
    March 03, 2015 10:49 PM
    It's not so much a right as a duty to protect their citizens from a nuclear war.

    by: aye
    March 03, 2015 11:21 AM
    Israel is bf's with USA which gives them exemption (as Kerry is trying to do) from UN criticism and IAEA (considering Israel has 300 illegal nukes) yeah Israel can systematically bomb UN shelters and apartment block after block in Gaza, but hey don't you dare criticise Israel or try to DE-legitimize her.... or her non-local population who came from america Poland and Germany. while kicking out the local and true semetic population (Arabs)
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 12:38 PM
    Dan, or it could be the fact Israel and US has deep ties, I mean US started Palestine at the sight of ICC which says something about Israel's allegation of crimes. I don't think UN is wrong, Israel has skirted international laws far, far too many times. If rest of world should commit war with Israel, I see no problem.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 12:33 PM
    Intellectual dishonesty hmmm, Was Israel ever pressured to sign NPT like other country? Having nuclear weapons with flagrant allegations of war crimes does question if so there's ethical concern here. I disagree, Israel has large human rights violation which does make one of the top countries of human right abuses, regardless of what you think added with military weapons it does posses a large concern for the UN. This nothing more usual victim hood we have by Israel, where any criticism is antisemitism, it's nothing more than to dislodge criticism.
    In Response

    by: Dan Phillips
    March 03, 2015 12:03 PM
    Might want to check into your facts before posting next time. Israel isn't a signatory to the Nuclear Arms Proliferation treaty, so their nuclear weapons aren't "illegal." And, do a little math about the massive human rights violations of other countries, and then consider whether Israel actually deserves to be constantly at the top of the UN agenda. That's Kerry's point.
    In Response

    by: Jewell from: USA
    March 03, 2015 11:58 AM
    Israel, like the US, has the right to exist and to protect and to defend themselves from attacks. If the "Palestinian/Arab" people don't want to encounter casualties then they should stop instigating conflict by daily firing rockets into Israel's territory and publicly declaring the desire for her destruction. Israel puts up with way too much! No apologies from them are necessary.

    by: Gabes from: USA
    March 03, 2015 10:35 AM
    If Israel has a nuclear weapon, Iran deserves a nuclear weapon. Is is treason for some members of Congress to allow Netanyahu who murders women and children to soil our sacred ground. This is disrespectful and it undermines the validity of congress. No matter what our differences are between political parities, one should never stoop this low to invite a murder into our house. I'd rather watch the Kardashian this murder. We've supported these people for too long. My vote would be to support Palestine.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 10:42 PM
    Argument hinges on Israel's innocence, with war crimes, I don't think they should be trusted with nukes yet alone any modern weapons. Or if Israel didn't commit clear disregard to human rights and legality of settlements, maybe Israel wouldn't appear in the UN much.
    In Response

    by: daron savoy from: NY
    March 03, 2015 9:18 PM
    Like a crazy terrorist regime that has vowed the destruction of Isreal should be trusted with nukes. I wouldnt trust those wacko's with a bottle rocket. Islamaphobe much? If the Palistinians would not blow stuff up they would be able to coexist.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 12:18 PM
    Fought and won? I thought Israel was peaceful? Make up your mind.
    In Response

    by: Jewell from: USA
    March 03, 2015 12:05 PM
    "PALESTINE" was a temporary name given to certain territories in the middle east that were conquered by the British. When the British pulled out of that area they left the people to battle it out themselves. As a result, the Jewish people (natives to that area as well) fought and WON and Israel was, once again, rightfully established. Protecting and defending your land doesn't make you a "murderer".

    by: Denis from: Nicaragua
    March 03, 2015 10:35 AM
    Mr Kerry you are a joke. The world sees who you really are. Nothing you, your country and the rest of your war monger buddys say is true. The world has seen your rabbit tricks once too many. Does it then come as a surprise that Washington is instigating, organizing and paying for civil unrest in Caracas and other major cities, stage by stage, leading eventually to a coup and control of the media, including TeleSur? – There is nothing new in this ‘procedure’. It is actually old and full with ancient dirt, repeated umpteen times around the globe over the last century – and the western bought presstitute media, including of neutral Switzerland, trumpets around the world that President Maduro is a dictator and clamps down on protesters. What a shameful lie – misguidance of public opinion, brainwashing people into supporting more crime by the empire. May public consciousness finally wake up!

    by: Paul from: berlin
    March 03, 2015 10:00 AM
    It's U.S. pure self interest to support Israel in the Middle East. It's the only democratic country in that region. If any other country in the Middle East would share the same values as the U.S. , they would get our support.
    In Response

    by: Higgs
    March 03, 2015 12:22 PM
    Greg, you're even more funny. You don't know what democracy is, clearly there's no difference between revolution and democracy according to your argument. I guess it's nothing more pointless point, to somehow justify your blind support of Israel, no?
    In Response

    by: Greg from: US
    March 03, 2015 11:47 AM
    Higgs - you are funny. Democracy is about getting someone OUT of power, not having an 'Election'. If you think Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, and Iran actually had elections in the western democratic sense, you clearly know nothing about the Middle East or Democracy or both.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 11:41 AM
    Hiroshima to Gaza siege, I guess it does Greg, both uncivilised countries that has large allegation of war crimes, human right abuses and aggression
    In Response

    by: Greg from: US
    March 03, 2015 11:27 AM
    Yes Paul you are correct. Israeli values align with US and western values - the arab world is a complete mess and their tribal systems clearly do not provide the region the stability it needs to progress. This is obvious to any rational observer. If the arab world became more like Israel, they would get everything they want.
    In Response

    by: Higgs
    March 03, 2015 11:20 AM
    Lebonon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, though I am missing some all democratic countries.
    In Response

    by: aye
    March 03, 2015 11:12 AM
    you really think USA supports israel because of democracy?

    by: Glen Lee from: Los Angeles
    March 03, 2015 9:54 AM
    Why not just recognize a Palestine state so the people can go about their lives. When they see that their government is disruptive to their lives they can elect another. But as long as Hamas/PA can hide behind Israel and blame them, nothing is going to change.... the people need a future and stop focusing on the past. That can be sorted out later!

    by: Noah from: Lebanonn
    March 03, 2015 9:35 AM
    Talking is cheap, the killing and suffering continues.
    Comments page of 4

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