Republicans and Democrats Denounce UN Plan for a Gaza Flotilla Commission by Gregory Hilton

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are united in opposition to a UN Commission to investigate the Gaza flotilla incident. Their joint letter to the President says “We ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.”

Yesterday the White House strongly denied claims the Obama administration planned to support creation of a United Nations Commission to investigate Israel’s role in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House Deputy Press Secretary said the accusation was not true, and “We know of no resolution that will be debated at the U.N. on the flotilla investigation next week.” The strong denial is doing little to ease concerns on Capitol Hill.
The lawmakers maintain that even if a vote does not come before the UN Security Council next week, a commission could be established by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The draft of a joint letter to the President is now being circulated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and it focuses on a potential UN role:

We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations. . . We ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.

The Senators are expressing serious reservations about any UN investigation because of what happened the last time. In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council produced the clearly biased Goldstone Report which blamed Israel, and not Hamas, for the destruction caused that year.
Members of Congress in both political parties issued strong warnings this week about the dangers posed by another U.N. Commission. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced Resolution 548 which says in part:

Whereas the incident has fomented unwarranted international criticism of Israel and its blockade of Gaza. In the time since the attack, the United Nations has unjustly criticized the actions of the Government of Israel and called for an investigation of such actions. The actions of the UN are undermining Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, compromising its sovereignty, and helping to legitimize Hamas.” The resolution goes on “to express profound disappointment with the counterproductive actions of the United Nations regarding this incident.

The strongest condemnation of a UN role came from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):

The United States should and will resist all one-sided attempts to condemn Israel at the United Nations. The UN, a body committed by its charter to universal human rights, has for much of its history, unfortunately, been sadly fixated on singling Israel out for condemnation–the only democratic nation in that region of the world that recognizes human rights. . .
The biased record extends beyond the infamous 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism. The U.N. General Assembly has convened an emergency special session 10 times. Not, I would suggest to you, when the North Koreans killed 46 South Korean sailors.
Six of the times that they met out of 10 have focused on one small besieged nation, Israel, while no emergency session was ever held on the Rwandan genocide, not held on the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, not held on the genocide in Sudan.
The 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism neglected racism around the world to again single out, almost exclusively, Israel and Zionism. The U.N. Human Rights Council, whose members include Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba, has only one permanent topic on its official agenda. Now, I have mentioned three genocides that have occurred.
They are not on that agenda. Israel. Even Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized the Human Rights Council for its ‘disproportionate focus on violations by Israel.’ Should Israel comply with international law and the mores and values of the international community? Yes. Does it? Yes, yes, it does. And like every Nation, however, it enjoys the right to self-defense.
This troubled history is exactly why I’m skeptical that the United Nations will treat Israel justly now. What happened on Mavi Marmara needs a real investigation, not one colored by years of one-sided bias.

The flotilla was attempting to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas came to power two years later. Since that time over 10,000 rocket and mortar shells have been launched by Hamas into Israel. Hamas has declared war on Israel and it has consistently rejected a two state solution to the peace process. Among other reactions were:

  • Dore Gold, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1997 to 1999, believes the investigation is a terrible idea. This “presupposes that Israel did something fundamentally wrong. In dealing with the question of Israel’s right to halt the flotilla, there is an extraordinary amount of international hypocrisy going aroundgenerated by those who ignore the past practices of other states at war as well as the true humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) “Hamas leaders and their masters in Tehran and Damascus have repeatedly refused to renounce terror, to abide by agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel and to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hezbollah, the Shiite militia cum political party created in Lebanon by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1983, has rearmed in the aftermath of the 2006 war with Israel. Its arsenal of short-range missiles has reportedly been augmented by longer range Scuds, which can reach targets throughout Israel. The Scuds, believed to be supplied by Syria, augment Hezbollah’s existing stockpile of up to 40,000 rockets stored in underground bunkers in southern Lebanon.”
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) “The condemnation that rang around the world against Israel is almost a default position in European and Arab capitals of the world. There is almost no surprise. It is also true that those very same quarters are the ones that criticize the United States at just about any opportunity.”
    “Let me tell you what the humanitarian aid was that was on that boat: 100 units of metal rods of various length–well, I am sure that was going to feed a lot of children; 200 knives of various sizes; 150 military-style and Turkish-produced self-defense vests, military-style; seven electric saws; 100 pipe wrenches; 50 wooden clubs; 20 axes; a telescopic sight for a gun; four night vision goggles; 100 diving lights; 150 head lamps; and of course boxes and boxes and boxes of propaganda and tapes, all of them in Turkish.”
  • Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) “The people of Gaza are not suffering. More than a million tons of humanitarian aid and medical supplies have entered. The problem is Hamas which has repeatedly stated that it will never accept Israel’s right to exist. Hamas has used the 1.4 million people of Gaza as human shields for rocket attacks and other acts of terror against Israeli citizens.”
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