WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) cited anti-Israel rhetoric in proposing legislation conditioning U.N. funding on reform.
"I am going to reintroduce legislation that conditions our contributions -- our strongest leverage -- on real, sweeping reform, including moving the U.N. regular budget to a voluntary funding basis," Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday. "That way, U.S. taxpayers can pay for the U.N. programs and activities that advance our interests and values, and if other countries want different things to be funded, they can pay for it themselves."
Ros-Lehtinen outlined three areas she said demonstrated the need for reform: deference to the North Korean regime by the local office of the U.N. Development Program; the international body's anti-Israel bent, particularly at the U.N. Human Rights Council; and procurement corruption.
She called the council "a rogues’ gallery dominated by human rights violators who use it to ignore real abuses and instead attack democratic Israel relentlessly."
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the ranking member, defended the Obama administration's emphasis on dues-paying and engagement.
He listed the Human Rights Council's anti-Israel bias as first in a long list of flaws, but said paying dues accrued credibility.
"Had we been in such deep arrears last year, does anyone honestly think we could have gotten an additional round of Iran sanctions through the Security Council?" he said.
Among those testifying was Hillel Neuer, who directs U.N. Watch, a body that monitors the United Nations for anti-Israel bias.