01 June 2016

Australia stands up for Israel at World Health Organisation

From AJN, 2 June 2016:

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was thanked by Jewish communal leaders for Australia voting against a motion condemning Israel at the World Health Organisation World Assembly. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was thanked by Jewish communal leaders for Australia voting against a motion condemning Israel at the World Health Organisation World Assembly.

...communal leaders thanked [Foreign Minister Julie Bishop] for taking a principled stance against an anti-Israel motion put forward at the World Health Organisation (WHO) World Assembly.

Australia was one of just eight countries to reject the motion condemning the Jewish State for violating “mental, physical and environmental health”.

Backed by 107 member nations, it was the only proposal at last week’s gathering that singled out a specific country for criticism.

Co-sponsored by the Arab Group of States and the Palestinian representatives, the motion also called for a WHO delegation to investigate and report back on “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory” and in “the occupied Syrian Golan”.

Writing to Bishop to express their gratitude for Australia’s vote, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) national chairman Mark Leibler and executive director Colin Rubenstein noted, “Despite the many extremely serious violations of rights in relation to health in countries such as Syria, the country selected for unique disapprobation was once again Israel.

“In fact, the motion also critically called attention to Israel’s record on the Golan Heights, and relied on a typically jaundiced report from the Syrian government to do so, even though the Syrian government has killed hundreds of thousands of its own people.”

... the Australian stand was “all the more honourable, praiseworthy and welcome” because “to their shame, many Western democracies joined the lynch mob declaring, in effect, that Israel was the only nation to violate human rights in this area. It may therefore have been easier for our delegation to go along with the crowd, and abstain or even vote in favour.

... “Israel has devoted considerable resources to improving the health of residents of the West Bank and Gaza. According to the World Bank, average life expectancy in those areas in 2014 was 73, above that for the wider Middle East and North Africa. This has risen from an estimated 48 in 1967.”

They added that figures from UNICEF show that the infant mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza has fallen from 158 per 1000 live births in the 1950s to 13.5 in the West Bank and 15.5 in Gaza by 2014.

They also noted that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. In 2012 alone, almost 220,000 Palestinian patients were treated, more than 21,000 of them children.
The letter concluded that “these figures go some of the way to demonstrating how ludicrous was the overall vote” on the motion, and expressed AIJAC’s gratitude for Ms Bishop’s leadership “in ensuring Australia, unlike so many other governments, has in exercising its vote in this matter, yet again demonstrated sound judgement, considerable courage and moral clarity”...