The UN Human Rights Council Reaches a New Height of Absurdity

Long a forum for despotic and ruthless regimes to criticize the Jewish state, the UN Human Rights Council has now commissioned an investigation into corporations doing business in Jewish areas of the West Bank and is set to release a list of such companies. The editors of the New York Post comment:

The Human Rights Council (HRC) believes companies doing business in the settlements are somehow [committing] a human-rights violation. Never mind that many of these firms provide jobs for Palestinians in the area and that the blacklist could cost many of them meaningful work. Or that the companies provide needed goods and services to anyone, no matter their background or where they live.

Ignore, too, the fact that the panel . . . has never voiced any human-rights concerns about firms in “occupied territory” elsewhere in the world, even where ethnic cleansing has taken place. And that numerous legal opinions and rulings [permit] such practices, with some citing language in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The World Bank itself has lent billions to companies in occupied territories around the world. Heck, even the United Nations’ own legal adviser, in a 2002 memo on Western Sahara, concluded that such a practice raised no human-rights concerns.

But then, the move by the HRC isn’t really about fighting human-rights abuses (or, for that matter, making rational and consistent policy of any kind). It’s about trying to hurt Israel in any way possible and gin up opposition toward it. . . . Meanwhile, the council and [its director’s] office get hundreds of millions of dollars every year, much of it from the United States. Surely there are better uses for that money.

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, UNHRC, United Nations, West Bank

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin