Communal leaders praise UK for opposing WHO Israel motion

Britain was the only European country to do so


Jewish communal organisations have publicly thanked the British government for voting against a World Health Organisation [WHO] resolution on Israel.

Britain was the only European country to do so.

The UK delegation to the WHO’s annual conference in Geneva opposed Agenda Item 19: “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”, on Thursday.

Israel was the only nation targeted by a specific motion, which included recommendations on access to health care for Palestinian patients in Gaza and the West Bank.

In its statement, the UK mission said it had voted against “the politicisation of the World Health Assembly.

“The reason we had this decision today was not because of the health needs of the people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, important though they are.

“No, the reason we had this decision today was because of the political situation relating to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“We do not have decisions in the World Health Assembly relating to every conflict, or civil war, or political stalemate around the world. This is the only one”.

The UK’s opposition followed a policy announced in March that Britain would vote against all future UN Human Rights Council resolutions on Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories unless the body ended its “disproportion and bias” against the Jewish state. The WHO is an agency within the United Nations.

“The WHO is one of the world’s most important technical agencies”, the UK’s statement continued.

“It should not be a place where we argue over geopolitics. If we politicise the WHO, we do so at our peril, and we do the cause of global health, and the health of our citizens, a grave disservice”.

Richard Verber, the senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, praised the UK government “for taking a principled stand.

“The only resolution dealing with a specific country was aimed at Israel”, he said.

“In doing so, the UK rejected the politicisation of the important issue of health and the unacceptable anti-Israel bias present in UN bodies.”

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said the WHO’s resolution had “singled Israel out for criticism.

“We are grateful to HM government for the vote against yesterday's resolution”, he said.

“For [the UK] to be the only European country to vote against the resolution confirms the government’s determination to stand up against the obsessive campaign to delegitimise Israel in international bodies.”

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