UN Panel Bashes Israel for Treatment of Palestinian Women

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A United Nations body dealing with women's rights has singled out Israel for its treatment of Palestinian women, ignoring other U.N. member states with questionable records on women's rights.

The Commission on the Status of Women, which is part of the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council, suspended its 50th session last week with a draft resolution addressing five subjects, including the situation of Palestinian women in relation to Israel.

The resolution called for "tangible improvement" in living conditions faced by Palestinian women and their families; and it said the Israeli "occupation" is a major obstacle to the advancement and self-reliance of Palestinian women.

The resolution called on Israel to "facilitate the return of all refugees and displace Palestinian women and children to their homes and properties."

(The return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants essentially would destroy the Jewish State.)

Professor Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a U.S.-based public policy research organization, noted that out of the 191 U.N. member states, only Israel was criticized for allegedly abusing women's rights.

"There was no resolution on Saudi Arabia and the million female migrant workers living in slave-like conditions there," Bayefsky said. Nor was there any mention of Jordan, home to "honor killings," where females are murdered for various transgressions to protect the family's name.

Nothing was said about China, land of forced abortions and sterilizations, Bayefsky said. "Nothing on Mali's appalling record on female genital mutilation. No mention of Palestinian women who volunteer to be suicide bombers in order to kill Jews. And of course, no mention of the Israeli women and girls who are their victims," Bayefsky wrote in comments on her "Eye on the UN" website.

"The Commission on the Status of Women makes it abundantly clear that the victims of the U.N.'s obsession with demonizing the Jewish state go far beyond Israelis. They are the billions of women around the world who cannot garner the attention of this organization because it is otherwise occupied," Bayefsky said.

Israel has long been isolated in the world body. Over the past five decades, more U.N. resolutions have been directed against Israel than any other country. Islamic and Arab states have an automatic majority in the U.N. General Assembly to back anti-Israel resolutions.

"Unfortunately this appears to be another example of the hijacking of the agenda of a professional body of the U.N.," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

"It is simply ludicrous to single out Israel for this issue when Israel is an open, free and egalitarian society, while ignoring the very real oppression against women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Sudan," said Regev.

Both the U.S. and Canada voted against the resolution on Israel's treatment of Palestinian women, although both offered support for the plight of those women.

The Canadian representative said the Palestinian refugee issue was not related to the main purpose of the resolution; and that the resolution should also express the P.A.'s responsibility for protecting the rights of Palestinian women and children.

The Human Rights Watch website cites various violations of women's rights, including the use of rape as a weapon of war in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Rwanda; women being beaten in their homes in Pakistan, South Africa and Russia; government-sponsored discrimination in Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; and discrimination against school girls who are lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered in the U.S.

But Israel is not included among the alleged abusers, although a spokesperson for HRW said a report is now being prepared on family violence in the Palestinian territories.

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