U.S. committed to ending anti-Israel bias on UN council, envoy says
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday defended America's membership on the controversial United Nations Human Rights Council as a necessary means of supporting Israel against detractors.
In prepared testimony, Susan Rice told a House panel that while the council has its flaws, a U.S. retreat would "embolden those nations that unfairly ostracize Israel and weaken the international community's ability to prevent human rights abuses."
She also said that the United States would continue to work to end the anti-Israel bias in the council, adding that it was better for the United States to stay engaged and resist this bias on the council "rather than turn our backs."
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council has come under scrutiny after Judge Richard Goldstone wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post backtracking on claims he had made in a report sponsored by the council, accusing Israel of targeting civilians during its war on the Gaza Strip two years ago.
Rice said on Wednesday that she wanted the controversial report to "disappear" but did not think it could be amended despite Goldstone's admission that some of his assessments may have been wrong.
Israel has urged the United Nations to cancel the 2009 report to the U.N. Human, however, Rice told a congressional hearing that she is "not sure it [the report] can be amended."
The U.S. ambassador continued, saying "what we want to see is for it to disappear and no longer be a subject of discussion and debate in the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly or beyond."
Rice said that the United States repudiated the Goldstone report as "deeply flawed" when it first emerged.
"We see no need ... for the Goldstone report to be considered and now that its principal author has said what he said, frankly, our view is reinforced that this should go away and that's what we'll work to do," she said.
Rice said the United States did not see any evidence that Israel intentionally targeted civilians or committed war crimes during the Gaza War two years ago.
Israel had shown an ability to investigate concerns about the conflict, "quite in contrast with Hamas," she said.
Asked by lawmakers about a possible Palestinian move for UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Rice said "you can pass a resolution but that does not a viable state create."
"A viable state can only be established through direct negotiations between the parties," she said.