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Netanyahu blasts UN human rights body for resolutions critical of Israel

A general view of the assembly hall during the opening of the Human Rights Council's Commemorative session marking the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Friday Dec. 12, 2008.
AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi
The Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolutions as a 'rejection of the language of blackmail and threats'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked the top United Nations human rights body as "circus of the absurd" after the passage of five resolutions critical of Israeli policy in the West Bank.

At the first session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday, motions were adopted by an overwhelming majority criticizing Israel over settlement building in the West Bank, the "human rights situation" in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the "Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" and on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

Only the United States and Australia voted against all the resolutions, with other Israeli allies, including Hungary, Togo and the United Kingdom occasionally joining the group or abstaining.

"More decisions that are cut off from the reality from the circus of the absurd called the Human Rights Council," Netanyahu tweeted on Saturday night, local time.

"The time has come to change its name to the Council for Decisions Against the Only Democracy in the Middle East," he said. 

Earlier, the Palestinian Authority had welcomed the motions as a "rejection of the language of blackmail and threats."

"The UN Human Rights Council's vote reflects a global position that upholds a just and comprehensive solution in the region, a solution that the Palestinian leadership believes in and strives to implement," PA spokesman Yusuf Al-Mahmoud said in a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency.

He said the Council's decisions show support for the Palestinian cause "in the face of injustice, arrogance and occupation, and rejection of the language of blackmail and threats."

AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP/File)

Israel and the United States frequently claim that the UNHRC singles out the Jewish state for criticism while glossing over human rights abuses by other states, including its own members.

The Council's membership currently includes states that watchdogs say have checkered human rights records, including Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt.

A furious Emmanuel Nahson, spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, blasted the organization for being beholden to "bloodthirsty dictatorships."

He tweeted that the UNHRC is "a sham, a mockery of the noble purposes it pretends to represent. It is an exclusively anti #Israel platform, manipulated by bloodthirsty dictatorships hiding their own massive human rights violations by attacking Israel."

US President Donald Trump's envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, has over the past year repeatedly warned that the United States was ready to walk away from the 47-member body established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide.

On Friday she again threatened to quit, branding the organization "grossly biased against Israel,"

"When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name," said Haley.

"Our patience is not unlimited. Today's actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights," she said in a statement.

Alongside the resolutions concerning Israel, the body also adopted dozens of others concerning North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and a host of texts on freedom of religion, the use of torture, rights of the child.

Monitoring missions in North Korea, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Iran were also extended.

AFP contributed to this report.

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