Israel will not be included in a list of states and organizations accused of violating children’s rights during armed conflicts, Reuters reported, citing sources within the United Nations, which is due to release the list as part of a special report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Earlier, Leila Zerrougui, the special representative of the secretary-general for children and armed conflict, had reportedly called for the inclusion of Israel in the list, which also includes militant groups like al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State group, and countries like the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo. In a draft report, Zerrougui had reportedly cited attacks by the Israeli army on schools and hospitals in the Gaza Strip during last year’s war as reasons for its inclusion in the list.
During the 50-day war last year in the densely-populated Gaza Strip, over 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, were killed. A U.N. report, released in April, directly blamed the Israeli military for attacks on seven U.N. buildings, including schools being used as shelters, which killed over 40 Palestinians. In a statement accompanying the report, Ban also criticized Palestinian militant groups for putting some U.N. schools in Gaza at risk by hiding weapons in locations that were not being used as shelters.
It is not yet clear if the decision to not include Israel or the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the list was made under pressure from the country. The Guardian had earlier reported that Israeli officials had allegedly warned the U.N. of “serious consequences” if it moved toward including the IDF in the list.
However, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon denied that his government had applied any political pressure on the U.N. “The pressure comes from those countries who want to include Israel in the worst possible list. … This is a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail,” he reportedly said, on Wednesday.
Also, on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham threatened to cut American funds to the U.N. if Israel was blacklisted, reportedly denouncing attempts to “marginalize” Israel.
“I'm not going to ask the American taxpayer to fund an organization that's going to be used in a way to marginalize one of our closest friends, the State of Israel,” Graham reportedly said. “We provide 25 percent of the funding to the United Nations. We have a lot of influence. … We're not getting a lot for our money.”
The U.S. has been a longtime ally of Israel, providing it with billions of dollars in arms and ammunitions, and other aid. Last week, the U.S. defense department approved a proposal to sell more than $1.8 billion in munitions, bombs and missiles to Israel.