ZFA and AIJAC calls on Australian Government to condemn UN blacklist

February 13, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Following publication by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a “blacklist” of businesses operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) and the Zionist Federation of Australia is calling on the Australian Government to maintain its principled stance towards fairness at the UN and condemn the list.

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights at a Human Rights Council 39th regular session on Sept. 10, 2018. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré/U.N. Photo.

The list was published overnight by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. It comprises mostly Israeli companies, the bulk of which provide essential services and employ both Israelis and Palestinians. These companies include public transport providers, energy suppliers and telecommunications firms, among others.

It is an unprecedented move by the UN Human Rights Council, of which Australia is a current member. The UN Human Rights Council has not released similar lists of companies operating in other occupied territories, such as Turkish-occupied Cyprus or the occupied Ukrainian territories. It is also not a breach of international law for these companies to operate in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“This is the ultimate sign of hypocrisy and bias by the UN Human Rights Council,” Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC executive director, said.

“These are legitimate businesses providing goods and services to the populations on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they are not breaking any international laws.”

“This is yet another example of the obsessive targeting of Israel in the UN Human Rights Council, ahead of all other human rights situations around the world.”

“The Australian Government has stood for fairness and against bias in the UN Human Rights Council during its current term as member,” Dr Rubenstein added. “AIJAC urges the Government to condemn this blacklist for what it is: a witch hunt that reminds us of Nazi-era boycotts of Jewish people.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have previously spoken out against the UN’s Israel-bias, including in the UN Human Rights Council.

In December 2018, Morrison said:

“This year, the UN Human Rights Council passed six motions condemning Israel, compared to a total of 14 across the rest of the world.

“And last month, at my direction, Australia opposed six resolutions that attacked Israel in the UN General Assembly. These included the ‘Jerusalem’ resolution, which contains biased and one-sided language attacking Israel and denies its historical connection to the city, and the ‘Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine’ resolution, which confers on the Palestinian Authority a status it does not have. In the past, we had abstained on these resolutions. Not anymore and not on my watch.

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. We all know that principle.                                                                           

“We won’t turn a blind eye to an anti-Semitic agenda masquerading as a defence of human rights as a nation like Australia.”

Foreign Minister Payne told the UN Human Rights Council on 25 February 2019:

“It is our firm view that a separate agenda item focussing on a single country situation –in this case, Israel – is inappropriate. It does not occur in any other context, for any other country.”

Jeremy Leibler

Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler has also slammed the UN’s blacklist of Israeli businesses and called on the Australian government to condemn it.

“A list of sanctioned Jewish businesses, created by a body consisting of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, is reminiscent of 1930s Germany”, he said. “This move will not advance peace, and was not designed to advance peace”, he continued. “The Australian Government and all other political parties should condemn it for what it is: antisemitic and antithetical to progress to peace.”

Mr Leibler continued, “The blacklist was commissioned as economic warfare against the Jewish state. Far from mobilising pressure against the settlement movement, the move has already backfired by uniting Israeli politicians and people in outrage. The blacklisted businesses employ thousands of Palestinians at higher wages and better conditions than the Palestinian average. This blacklist will hurt Palestinians and the Palestinian economy far more than it does Israel. Israelis and Palestinians agreed almost 30 years ago that settlements would be negotiated as part of final status talks. Palestinians have refused to negotiate since walking away from talks in 2014. The Palestinians will not succeed in removing any settlements through economic warfare and Nazi-like blacklists, but only through negotiations.”

Australia was not a member of the Human Rights Council when the resolution calling for this list was passed, and so did not have the opportunity to vote against it. The ZFA acknowledges that Australia has used its subsequent position on the Human Rights Council to vote against similarly biased resolutions.

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