August 8, 2006 – New York – The American Jewish Committee has sent letters to the ambassadors of countries currently serving on the UN Human Rights Council to protest the Special Session regarding the situation in Lebanon that is scheduled for later this week in Geneva. AJC is deeply concerned that the Council will ignore the activities of Hezbollah that sparked the conflict and continue to harm and threaten Israel, Lebanon and the region.
“What is at stake today is the credibility of the newly founded Human Rights Council,” wrote Aaron Jacob, AJC’s Associate Director of International Affairs. “If the Council adopts yet another one-sided resolution condemning the attacked while rewarding the aggressor, it may irrevocably stain its reputation for years to come. We strongly urge your government to vote against such a resolution.”
This week’s Special Session will be the second country-specific session of the council in the last month, states the AJC letter. “The previous session resulted in a blatantly one-sided resolution censuring Israel while ignoring the terror campaign perpetrated against Israel and its citizens by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations,” Jacob wrote.
The full text of the letter follows:
We understand that the Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold yet another Special Session this week, this time regarding the situation in Lebanon. In this regard, we wish to recall that the current crisis in Lebanon is the result of Hezbollah’s unprovoked aggression against Israel on July 12, as the UN Secretary General has confirmed. Israel fully complied with Security Council resolution 425 by withdrawing its troops from Lebanon in May 2000. The Secretary General confirmed Israel’s compliance, as did the Security Council in several resolutions. There was no justification whatsoever for any attack against Israeli troops across the border.
As the issue of the proportionality of the Israeli response has been raised, we want to clarify this point as well. International law provides that the proportionality of a response to an attack is to be measured not in regard to the specific attack suffered by a state, but in regard to what is necessary to remove the overall threat. In Israel’s case, this means that its response has to be measured not only in respect to the initial Hezbollah cross-border attack – a raid in which eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two kidnapped, and a simultaneous rocket barrage against Israel - or even the thousands of missiles that subsequently have been fired at Israel’s northern towns and villages, but also against the estimated 10,000 or more missiles that Hezbollah still has and continues to use against Israel, and its declared commitment to destroy the State of Israel.
The suffering of civilians on both sides of this conflict is tragic. Israel is making strenuous efforts to reduce this toll, both by protecting Israeli civilians and seeking to minimize civilian suffering on the Lebanese side. Its task is daunting, as Hezbollah deliberately targets Israeli civilians and places its fighters and their rockets and other armaments within civilian populations – in flagrant violation of international law. Under the circumstances, what is remarkable is the relative small number of civilian casualties Israel has caused – a direct result of its assiduous efforts to avoid civilian injury. Israel's efforts in this regard should not, however, diminish the ultimate responsibility of those who callously and deliberately use the civilian population as a shield for the injury that inevitably results from their actions.
The Special Session to be held this week is the second country-specific Special Session in the last month. The previous session resulted in a blatantly one-sided resolution censuring Israel while ignoring the terror campaign perpetrated against Israel and its citizens by Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations. What is at stake today is the credibility of the newly founded Human Rights Council. If the Council adopts yet another one-sided resolution condemning the attacked while rewarding the aggressor, it may irrevocably stain its reputation for years to come. We strongly urge your government to vote against such a resolution.
Associate Director of International Affairs
American Jewish Committee