The Palestinian Authority has decried a U.S. decision to unilaterally withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying the move exposes the U.S. bias toward Israel.
"The U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. rights council exposes the extent to which this administration is willing to go to shield Israel from accountability," the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).
On Tuesday, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the U.N. rights council, accusing the body of being hypocritical and biased against Israel.
"This additional step of bias against Palestinian rights will further embolden Israel to pursue its human rights violations," the ministry said.
Hamas said the U.S. exit from the U.N. Human Rights Council "reflects its increased international isolation". "And [the U.S.] is no longer able to justify its criminal practices and support for Israeli terrorism against the Palestinian people," the group's spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on his Twitter account.
Relations have strained between the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. since the latter relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last month.
Israel, for its part, welcomed the U.S. move, describing it as a "courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies" of the U.N. rights council.
"For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
The U.S. decision to withdraw from the U.N. rights council came following long-continued discussions between the U.S. and U.N. members both in New York and Geneva, where the council is based.
It also followed uproar over President Donald Trump's controversial immigration policy, which is causing major human rights abuses by separating children from undocumented parents who crossed the U.S. border seeking a better life.
The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president's "America First" policy. Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that "America First does not mean America Alone," the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.
Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum against key trading partners, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift. A group of 12 organizations including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA said there were "legitimate concerns" about the council's shortcomings but that none of them warranted a U.S. exit.
"This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world," the organizations said in a joint statement.