Based in Geneva, the UNHRC is comprised of a coalition of nations that advocate for human rights around the world. Although originally a part of the UNHRC, the U.S. withdrew from the council during the administration of former President Donald Trump. Trump’s administration believed the UNHRC was biased against some U.S. allies, including Israel.
Biden said during his presidential campaign that he intended to rejoin the UNHRC. In a Friday letter to Biden, the group of House Republicans asked Biden to reconsider his position.
“Since its founding in 2006, the Human Rights Council has failed to seriously advance the basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has instead bolstered some of the most oppressive regimes in the world,” the letter read. “The United States should not grant this body any further credibility with its membership.”
“It would be morally reprehensible for the United States to become party to a body that systematically shields the world’s worst regions from accountability,” the letter added.
According to the letter, which was co-signed by more than 40 House Republicans, the UNHRC has “disproportionately targeted” Israel while passing no resolutions concerning alleged human rights abuses committed by China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other countries between 2006-2019.
In a December 2019 statement, Biden said that he would have the U.S. “rejoin the UN Human Rights Council and work to ensure that body truly lives up to its values.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
In the last decade, the UNHRC has drafted more than 40 resolutions concerning Israel and its occupation of territory Palestine says it owns. Israel and Palestine have historically debated over who has rights to portions of the region, leading Israel to occupy parts of Palestine. Israel’s government saw the UNHRC’s resolutions regarding its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory as presenting an anti-Israel bias.
After the Trump administration withdrew from the UNHRC, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he welcomed the announcement.
“Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights,” Netanyahu wrote in June 2018, “the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.”
Trump considered Israel to be one of the U.S.’s greatest allies. In 2017, Trump officially announced that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 2018, the U.S. transferred its embassy in the area from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Trump’s decision as a “slap in the face.”
In February 2020, Trump unveiled a plan for peace between Israel and Palestine which would give Israel control of borders and make the creation of any future self-determined Palestinian state difficult. Abbas, who did not join discussions about the plan, severed diplomatic ties with both the U.S. and Israel after Trump’s plan was announced.
Speaking before the United Nations Security Council in February 2020, Abbas said Trump’s peace proposal “annuls the legitimacy of the Palestinian rights, our rights to self-determination, freedom, and independence in our own state.”