The World Health Organization (WHO) held a session on November 12 accusing Israel of violating Palestinian health rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UN Watch reported that for four hours, Israel was “condemned in speeches by some 30 delegations, including Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Malaysia, Lebanon and Venezuela, for allegedly violating the health rights of Palestinians and Syrians in the Golan Heights.” For instance, the Iranian delegation alleged that Israel’s “chronic occupation has profound implications for the health of Palestinians. More than 12 years of inhuman blockade has had a profound effect on the health sector, worsening an already dire situation.”
🇮🇷 Islamic Republic of Iran at special debate against Israel @WHO assembly: "Chronic occupation has profound implications for the health of Palestinians. More than 12 years of inhuman blockade has had a profound effect on the health sector, worsening an already dire situation." pic.twitter.com/A1Jd9dgkBD
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) November 12, 2020
UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said in a statement, “Out of 23 items on the current world health assembly’s Agenda, only one, Item 17 targeting Israel, focused on a specific country. There was no agenda item or resolution on any other country, conflict, civil war or political impasse—not on Syria, where hospitals and other medical infrastructure are repeatedly and deliberately bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; not on war-torn Yemen, where 14 million are in dire need of health assistance; and not on Venezuela, where the health system is in a state of collapse and 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.”
Neuer added that the Israelis have been coordinating with the Palestinians to provide training, assistance and medical equipment to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Israel has treated “tens of thousands of Palestinians” at Israeli hospitals, per Neuer.
“Even the UN’s own Middle East peace envoy hailed Israel’s ‘excellent’ coordination and cooperation with Palestinians amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Neuer said.
The WHO also voted to approve a resolution (78 yeas, 14 nays, and 32 abstentions) to adopt a November 5 report from the UN Health General, which blames Palestinian health problems on Israel’s “chronic occupation” of the West Bank. The report also accuses Israel of engaging in “discriminatory planning policies and practices towards Palestinians” Area C of the West Bank, which is under the Israeli military’s jurisdiction; it additionally blames Israel for violence on the border of the Gaza Strip during the “March of Return” riots. UN Watch noted that the report doesn’t acknowledge “the role of Hamas and other terrorist groups in orchestrating violence and encouraging demonstrators to approach the hostile area of the Gaza-Israel border.”
Under the resolution, the WHO director-general will be required to issue another report in 2021 about Palestinian health in the West Bank.
“Amid a global pandemic, the minority of [European Union] member states and other democracies who voted for the resolution should be ashamed, including France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Japan, India, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Monaco,” Neuer said. “These countries have now encouraged the continued hijacking of the world’s health priorities, and the diversion of precious time, money, and resources to fight global disease, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel.”
Among those that voted against the resolution included the United States, Britain and Australia.
Pro-Israel Twitter users also criticized the WHO.
“There is a global pandemic. Over a million have died, 10s of millions infected, the world in lockdown, economies in serious trouble,” British researcher David Collier tweeted. “The World Health Organisation met today and used the opportunity to..[.] You’ve guessed it – bash Israel. Each of those involved should be fired.”
There is a global pandemic. Over a million have died, 10s of millions infected, the world in lockdown, economies in serious trouble..
The World Health Organisation met today and used the opportunity to..
You've guessed it – bash Israel.
Each of those involved should be fired.
— David Collier (@mishtal) November 12, 2020
Noah Pollak, executive director of the newly formed foreign policy organization Democracy Alliance Institute, similarly tweeted, “World Health Organization, in the midst of a global pandemic it helped cause, just held a four-hour session condemning Israel [with] speeches by Syria, Cuba, Turkey, & Qatar. [President Donald] Trump left this corrupt org; [President-Elect Joe] Biden will re-join, naturally.”
World Health Organization, in the midst of a global pandemic it helped cause, just held a four-hour session condemning Israel w/ speeches by Syria, Cuba, Turkey, & Qatar. Trump left this corrupt org; Biden will re-join, naturally. https://t.co/ILb2MF3mWZ
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) November 12, 2020
In July, the Trump administration announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the WHO in a year. The State Department said in a September statement that U.S. aid to global health and humanitarian initiatives is conditioned on “the reasonable expectation that it serve an effective purpose and reach those in need. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization has failed badly by those measures, not only in its response to COVID-19, but to other health crises in recent decades. In addition, WHO has declined to adopt urgently needed reforms, starting with demonstrating its independence from the Chinese Communist Party.” Biden has said that he will reverse the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the WHO on his first day in office, arguing that “Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health” and that rejoining the WHO is necessary to “restore our leadership on the world stage.”