Palestinians get more rights at the World Health Organization

Written By Mark

Yesterday, Friday, the member states of the World Health Organization decided to grant additional rights to the Palestinians, in a step similar to a similar decision taken by the United Nations General Assembly weeks ago.

By an overwhelming majority, member states, which met this week within the framework of the World Health Assembly, the highest decision-making body in the World Health Organization, voted in favor of a draft resolution aimed at “aligning Palestinian participation” in the World Health Organization with its participation in the United Nations.

Of the 177 countries that had the right to vote, 101 countries supported the text, while 5 countries opposed it, and the result of the vote, which was held by a show of hands, was met with prolonged applause.

The draft resolution, presented by a group of Arab and Islamic countries, in addition to China, Nicaragua and Venezuela, calls for granting the Palestinians, who have observer status with the World Health Organization, almost the same rights as if they were full members.

The vote in Geneva came after UN members voted overwhelmingly earlier in May in New York to give more rights to the Palestinians in the world body, after the United States obstructed their bid to obtain full membership in the United Nations.

During the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Palestinians and their supporters abandoned their demand for full membership.

Several diplomatic sources indicated that this abandonment was due to fears that a vote in favor of Palestinian membership would lead to an automatic suspension of US funding to the World Health Organization.

The Palestinian Ambassador to Geneva, Ibrahim Muhammad Al-Khuraishi, welcomed the vote and promised cooperation, including with “those who say the Palestinians do not have the right to vote” at the World Health Organization.

Al-Khuraishi also reminded the American delegate that her ancestors expelled their colonizers by force. “It is an inalienable right and an absolute right for us, when we face genocide, to be able to exercise our right to self-determination,” he said in Arabic.

For her part, the American delegate explained Washington’s opposition, saying that “the United States remains convinced that unilateral measures such as this decision will not achieve” the goal of a two-state solution.

“Therefore, the United States voted no,” she added, considering that Friday’s vote would not achieve “tangible change” for the Palestinians.

The text that was adopted yesterday, Friday, specifically grants the Palestinians “the right to have a seat among the member states (…) the right to submit proposals and amendments (…), (and) to be elected to the office of the plenary session and the main committees of the Health Assembly.”

However, he emphasizes that “Palestine, as an observer state, does not have the right to vote in the Health Assembly nor to submit its candidacy to the bodies of the World Health Organization.”