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Kerry defends Israel at UN rights body

Press Trust of India  |  Geneva 

US Secretary of State John Kerry today came out strongly in defence of Israel at the annual session of the UN Human Rights Council and slammed its members for "excessive bias" and "obsession" with the democratic Jewish state.

"There is excessive bias in our judgement against Israel. I wanted to make it clear today that it stands in the way of progress that should be achieved here at the wider array of human challenges," Kerry said at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - which aims to protect human rights around the globe.

"The UNHCR's obsession with Israel risks undermining the credibility of the entire organisation," Kerry said, even as he assured Israel, America's strategic ally in the Middle East, of US's full support against attempts to isolate the democratic country.

"The US will oppose any group, any participant who abuse the UN system in order to delegitimise or isolate Israel, not just in UNHRC but wherever it occurs," he added.

Kerry's remarks defending Israel came as the two countries tried to mend their faltering relationship, amid heightened tensions over the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is vehemently opposed to any nuclear deal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a two-day visit to the US to dissuade Obama administration from making a deal with Iran.

Netanyahu will also address the joint session of US Congress tomorrow, on the invitation of President's Barack Obama's Republican foes.

Referring to the proposed Iran nuclear deal, Kerry said, "Israel's security is absolutely at the forefront of all our minds. But frankly so is the security of all us and the security of the US."

Kerry is expected to resume nuclear negotiations with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, shortly after his speech at the UNHRC.

Decrying UN's "deeply concerning record on Israel", Kerry said that no other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it. "Year after year there are five or six separate resolutions on Israel," added Kerry.

Israel has been the subject of frequent UN resolutions, chastising it for human right violations in the Palestinian territories and Gaza, and a new report commissioned by the UN council about last year's Gaza war is expected to be released on March 23. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict.

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First Published: Mon, March 02 2015. 20:13 IST