WHO Accused of Hiding Positive Report on Israel

GENEVA IDN) – The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health, “decided to hide a positive report on Israel from the public eye” under pressure from Syria’s Assad regime, reports UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization.

The report has been published three days after the WHO Member States elected the first African, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, as the new Director-General, who will begin his five-year term on July 1, 2017.

The report quotes Israel’s Geneva representative, Ambassador Aviva Raz-Shechter, who made the allegation as the world body’s annual assembly adopted a resolution co-sponsored by Syria on May 25 that targeted Israel over “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

The resolution, which will cost $10 million to implement, renews the annual naming and shaming of Israel by renewing a special agenda item on the country at next year’s session, as well as mandating a report by WHO’s director-general, measures of scrutiny applied to no other country, says UN Watch, a monitoring group accredited with consultative status at the United Nations.

The NGOs said, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and 10 other countries confirmed Israel’s account and took the floor to express regret that while Israel co-operated with a WHO mission to the Golan, “the report of that mission was not published, not even the parts which had already been completed.”

“This is clearly due to the Syrian behavior,” said UN Watch quoted EU countries saying, “which we can only condemn in the strongest terms. This is particularly deplorable in view of the abysmal health situation in other parts of Syria. According to the UN, last year alone, more than 300 medical facilities in Syria were targeted.”

WHO hid the positive report “rather than standing up to the brutal Syrian regime,” tweeted Raz-Shechter. In its report, the WHO – falsely, it would appear from the EU statement – blamed its omissions on “time constraints” and “additional information needed.” (See full quote here.)

This year’s text, co-sponsored by Syria and the Palestinians, along with Algeria, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia and Venezuela, removed explicit language condemning Israel that was in last year’s resolution, likely as a bid to garner EU support.

The vote to maintain the WHO spotlight on Israel for next year was 98 to 7, with 21 abstentions. (See full voting chart here.)

The UK changed its vote from last year, switching from Yes to No, joining Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel and Togo in the opposition.

Those abstaining were Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, DR Congo, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Malawi, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, East Timor, and Tuvalu.

“For the UN to allow Syria’s Assad regime to influence its focus on health conditions is absurd,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“It is the height of cynicism for Syria to introduce a resolution on the health of Druze residents of the Golan Heights, who in fact live very well under Israeli jurisdiction, even as Assad bombs his own hospitals, ambulances and medical workers. The UN should reject the hijacking of its world health agenda by Arab regimes and allied dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela,” Neuer added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 May 2017]

Related article: A Change of Guard at the WHO

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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