Germany’s objectives on Middle East resolutions at the United Nations

General Assembly of the United Nations in New York

General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, © picture alliance/Valery Sharifulin/TASS/dpa

18.11.2019 - Article

Alongside its EU partners, the German Government works to prevent unfair treatment of Israel at the United Nations.

Biased treatment

The German Government is very concerned about repeated instances of Israel being inappropriately criticised, subject to bias and marginalised in UN bodies. These include resolutions and decisions passed by the General Assembly and, most particularly, by UN specialised agencies. The World Health Organization, for example, has in the past adopted inappropriately politicised decisions targeted at Israel.

Correspondingly, the German Government works explicitly to combat any unfair treatment of Israel in the UN and to support Israel’s legitimate interests. This is particularly true during Germany’s time on the UN Security Council.

General Assembly and Security Council

Both in the General Assembly and on the Security Council, Germany collaborates closely with its fellow members of the EU. The text of each resolution, according to its subject matter, is measured against criteria pertaining to foreign policy and international law. Having a joint negotiating and voting strategy enables Germany and its partners in the EU to influence drafting negotiations in such a way as to block decisions proposed by other countries that would be even more harmful to Israel. Before every vote, the Federal Foreign Office checks whether the process up to that point corresponds with Germany’s objective of combating any unfair treatment of Israel. Then, our Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York defends the German Government’s position in the UN bodies.

Alongside this, Germany works to ensure that any acts of aggression against Israel are condemned by the United Nations. In the General Assembly last year, Germany, Israel and the United States jointly sponsored a draft resolution condemning the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas. Germany continues to pursue the goal of having the General Assembly condemn the terrorist activities of Hamas and other militant groups.

On the UN Human Rights Council, the German Government is working continuously to reduce the number of resolutions relating to Israel (under agenda item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories) and to see the remaining resolutions dealt with under other agenda items in accordance with their actual subject matter, e.g. freedom of opinion. In March 2019, for instance, the resolution “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Palestinian territories” was successfully moved to agenda item 2: “Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General”.

In the UN specialised agencies, Germany opposes decisions and initiatives that target Israel. In the WHO, Germany recently voted against just such a resolution.

Germany also actively advocates raising current topics relating to the Middle East at the UN. On Syria, it proposed a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Idlib to the Security Council in September, which found broad support but was in the end vetoed by Russia and China.

Historical responsibility

In May 2019, Israel celebrated the 70th anniversary of its accession to the United Nations. Marking the occasion, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reaffirmed the German Government’s support for Israel within the UN:

Germany’s historic responsibility for the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and its security is part of our national ethos. Germany will always work, including in the UN, to ensure that Israel’s right to exist is never called into question.

From Germany’s perspective, the UN forms the heart of a multilateral, rules-based international order. Only such a rules-based order, in Germany’s view, has the potential to safeguard security and peace in the long term – including in the Middle East conflict, which is the usual trigger for UN resolutions relating to Israel. This makes it all the more vital for the UN to assume a balancing and mediatory role on such matters.

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