WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Trump administration has withdrawn the United States from the U.N. Human Rights Council because of its bias against Israel.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, jointly announced the pullout on Tuesday evening.
“The Human Rights Council is an exercise in shameless hypocrisy,” Pompeo told the media at the State Department.
Haley said the decision came after her “good faith” effort to reform the body was obstructed by others.
The body “was not worthy of its name,” she said.
The decision split those who, like Haley and Pompeo, said the council’s negative focus on Israel rendered it irrelevant and others, including human rights groups and Jewish lawmakers, who said the U.S. presence was an important voice calling out abuses around the world.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the departure “courageous.”
“The U.S. decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough,” he said in a statement.
Two human rights advocacy groups with close ties to mainstream Jewish groups, Human Rights First and the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, joined a letter sent to Pompeo criticizing the Trump administration for leaving the council.
“Forfeiting the U.S. seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council only serves to empower actors on the council, like Russia and China, that do not share American values on the preeminence of universal human rights,” said the letter initiated by Freedom House.
In addition to the body’s disproportionate focus on Israel, successive U.S. administrations have objected to the presence of human rights abusers on the council.
Haley, warning earlier this month of the likelihood of a U.S. withdrawal, said the presence of noted abusers was a sticking point.
“Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table,” she said.
Current members of the council noted for their oppressive policies include Saudi Arabia, China and Venezuela.