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Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli UN representative Danny Danon. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me they are concerned that U.S. withdrawal from the UN human rights council will make it harder to block anti-Israeli initiatives on the council. The officials say that even though they feel the council is extremely biased against Israel, U.S. membership helped to soften or fend off some anti-Israeli steps.

Why it matters: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in their announcement yesterday that one of the reasons for the U.S. withdrawal was the council's bias against Israel. Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the U.S. announcement and called the decision "a courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council."

Despite Netanyahu's remarks, senior Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me the timing of the U.S. withdrawal is problematic because it comes a few months before current UN human rights commissioner Prince Zaid Bin Raad ends his term. The said they hoped the U.S. would at least stay in the council until after the new commissioner's appointment, in order to ensure the person appointed for the job is more balanced.

The Israeli officials say there are at least two big anti-Israeli initiatives which will be much harder to block or deal with now that the U.S. has left the council:

  • The publication of the database or "blacklist" of Israeli and international companies which operate in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. A few months ago, U.S. pressure led the U.N. human rights commissioner to postpone the publication of the list.
  • The formation of a commission of inquiry on the violent clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza. The council has decided to form the inquiry, but Israeli officials tell me they are concerned that without the U.S. it will be close to impossible to influence the commission's composition, mandate and conclusions.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.

2 hours ago - World

China's ambassador warns Taiwan could spark "military conflict" with U.S.

Photo: Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty Images

China's ambassador to the U.S. warned in a rare interview with NPR that if Taiwanese authorities "keep going down the road for independence," it would "most likely" lead to a "military conflict" between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Chinese officials rarely speak in such blunt terms, but veteran diplomat Qin Gang was unequivocal: "The Taiwan issue is the biggest tinderbox between China and the United States."

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