Biden will rejoin UN Human Rights Council after Trump called it 'hypocritical' for scrutiny of Israel

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Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken speaks after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden as he introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre on November 24, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
  • Biden's administration wants to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, the Associated Press reports. 
  • Trump withdrew from the Council in 2018, saying it was biased against Israel. 
  • Republican lawmakers have already called on Biden to reconsider plans to rejoin. 
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior US diplomat in Geneva will announce plans for the US to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council as an observer on Monday, the Associated Press reported. 

Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the council in 2018 after his administration said it was politically biased, especially towards Israel. 

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN at the time, said that the council ignored violations from countries like Venezuela, China, and Saudi Arabia, and that Israel was "singled out in a way that no other country is singled out." 

The UN General Assembly will elect new members to the council at the end of this year, and the US is working towards getting a full member seat.

During his campaign, Biden pledged to rejoin the council. One official told Reuters that Biden's administration still thinks the council needs reform. "We know that the Council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world. By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential," the official said.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Joe Biden's White House staff

The AP reported that the move to rejoin the council will likely be scrutinized by conservatives. 

Haley, in a tweet last month, said if Biden rejoined the council "he'll give unfree nations a free pass to keep oppressing their people. That's no way to advance the cause of human rights. The Council's members include Cuba, Russia, & China, a country that's guilty of genocide." 

Forty Republicans in the House sent a letter to Biden asking him not to rejoin the council, arguing that it "disproportionately targets" Israel and does not focus on atrocities like the repression of Uighurs in China. 

"Israel is the only country to be a permanent item on the council's agenda," the letter said. "This past year, the 43rd Human Rights Council Session adopted five resolutions condemning Israel, and only one each targeting Iran, Syria, and North Korea."

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