Board welcomes UK opposition to WHO fact-finding mission to West Bank

Board welcomes UK opposition to WHO fact-finding mission to West Bank

British decision to vote against to World Health Organisation's 'politically motivated' initiative backed by Board of Deputies

The Board of Deputies has welcomed the UK’s voted against the World Health Organisation establishing a fact-finding mission in the Palestinian territories to assess the healthcare situation.

The vote, at the WHO’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, was passed with 90 countries in favour and six against, these being the UK, the US, Israel, Canada, Australia and Guatemala, which last week moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

A Board spokesman said: “We applaud the UK for taking a stand against a WHO resolution taking Israel to task over the situation in the Territories,” adding that it “had nothing to do with the health needs of the people in the Territories and was completely politically motivated”.

He added: “The UK Government is correct in asserting that these decisions undermine the credibility of the World Health Organisation.”

In its report on medical facilities in Gaza, published earlier this year, the Geneva-based organisation reported that since 2010 there had been a nine percent reduction in the number of hospital beds, a five percent reduction in the number of nurses and a 21 percent reduction in the number of doctors, per head of the population.

“The 2014 conflict in the Gaza Strip damaged 17 hospitals and 58 clinics, with the closure of 44 facilities,” it said. Since protests began on 30 March this year, WHO said 16 healthcare professionals had been shot with live ammunition. Paramedic Musa Abuhassanin was killed.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides primary healthcare for Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, alongside other programmes such as food assistance, education and water sanitisation.

Last Friday, UN Human Rights Council members voted to establish an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the deaths of 104 Palestinians and the injuring of thousands since protests began at the end of March.

The UK abstained, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt criticising the motion as “unbalanced” and instead calling for Israel to conduct its own inquiry.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, asked: “Given that Gazans did all the dying and Israeli soldiers did all the killing, how does the Minister expect an internal Israeli inquiry to be less partial and less unhelpfully unbalanced than the inquiry mandated by the UN?”

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