Lieberman asks US to pull out of UN Human Rights Council

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Lieberman asks US to pull out of UN Human Rights Council

Israel's defence minister called on America to withdraw from the UN's Human Rights, and Refugee agencies

Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman asked the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the U.N. Human Rights Council and to conduct a review of UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee relief agency.

The groups “do not fulfil the roles assigned to them,” Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to an Israeli Defence Ministry readout of the meeting, which took place on Wednesday in Washington.

Noting the disproportionate attention the body gives Israel, Lieberman said the Human Rights Council “defames Israel in attempts to harm her by distorting reality,” according to the release.

“In light of this, Minister Lieberman asked Tillerson to consider the possibility of pulling out of the Human Rights Council and to stop funding it, and to review the management and criteria of UNRWA,” the release said.

Lieberman’s request came a day after State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there were no immediate plans to pull out of the Human Rights Council.

“We’re at the table, we’re working on an agenda, we’ve been elected to a three-year term I think back in 2016, and we’re committed to human rights and fundamental freedoms and working to pursue those,” Toner said Tuesday.

The Obama administration rejoined the Human Rights Council after the Bush administration withdrew, partly as a means of exerting influence and partly because the U.S. presence might mitigate some of the council’s extremism.

Lieberman’s statement did not detail his complaints about UNRWA, which notably stopped well short of asking for a withdrawal of support for the agency. Israel has long viewed UNRWA as fundamentally hostile to its interests, even as it counts on the agency to sustain and stabilise Palestinian areas afflicted by poverty.

Lieberman also met with U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Washington, as well as with congressional leaders. A key concern for Lieberman has been ensuring a high U.S. profile in the region. He has indicated wariness of President Donald Trump’s occasional expressions of isolationism.

“The Vice President and Minister Lieberman agreed on the need to counter threats posed by Iran and its proxies as well as terrorist organisations, and discussed ways in which our militaries can work even more closely together to address shared threats,” said a statement from Pence’s office after their meeting Tuesday. “The two leaders also discussed the crisis in Syria and other regional issues.”

Toner, in the State Department’s first briefing for reporters since Trump assumed office on Tuesday, also said that the State Department is “working closely with the White House” on the Middle East peace process.

Asked about the department’s role in peacemaking given that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been named envoy for Middle East peace, Toner said the department is “playing a role.”

“With respect to the connection or how the State Department may be playing a role in the pursuit of Middle East peace, I know that we are working closely with the White House on evaluating where we stand,” Toner said. “I think at this point, we’re still kind of at a stage where we’re looking at the situation and trying to formulate next steps.”

Toner was also queried about the White House’s policy on settlement activity by Israel. After noting that the president had stated publicly that he would like to see Israel “hold back on settlement activity,” Toner said: “I think we’re in discussions with Israel about what exactly that would look like,” he said.

Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, also put off questions about U.S. policy on settlements, except to allude to Trump’s request, during a meeting last month with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel hold off building for now.

“As we follow up with Israel in the coming weeks, we will have more than that,” Spicer said Wednesday at the daily briefing for reporters.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: