With the United Nations long panned for harboring deep anti-Israel bias, Israel’s position within the international organization has often been deemed hopeless.
However, after a tireless effort by the Israeli delegation to the UN, earlier this summer the Jewish state was selected for the first time to head the UN’s Sixth Committee, one of the permanent committees at the world body playing an important role in shaping international law.
Israel’s selection to head the Sixth Committee comes amid a broader strategy by Israel to counter anti-Israel bias and to play a larger role within the world body, including by vying for a seat on the prestigious UN Security Council (UNSC), one of the six principle organs of the UN. The council is empowered to establish peacekeeping operations, place international sanctions, and authorize military action.
“For 68 years, we have been a full member of the United Nations in writing, but this privilege has not been actualized,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told JNS.org. “For 68 years, we have been on the fringes and for 68 years we have worked so hard for our chance to make a sincere difference, and to head a committee at the United Nations General Assembly.”
Over the years, Israel’s efforts to gain more legitimacy at the world body have been thwarted by the efforts of Arab and Islamic countries, which are a considerable voting bloc equaling a quarter of the General Assembly’s 193 members. Danon explained that Israel’s move to head the Sixth Committee faced numerous roadblocks, especially from the Iranian and Palestinian delegations which “hypocritically argued that Israel isn’t worthy to hold this post.“
Anti-Israel bias continues to surface at the UN. Last month, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proposed a resolution declaring the Temple Mount as sacred to “Muslims only.” Danon called the UNESCO resolution a “blatant attempt to rewrite the history books that has not gone unnoticed, and we will not let this biased and baseless UNESCO resolution rob us of our past.”