Last year, the United States made it clear that we would not accept the continued existence of Agenda Item 7, which singles out Israel in a way that no other country is singled out. Earlier this year, as it has in previous years, the Human Rights Council passed five resolutions against Israel - more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined.
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(CNN) —  

Nearly 20 human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have pushed back on claims by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that they are responsible for the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council.

In a Friday letter, 18 groups said the decision to withdraw from the Geneva-based council was “that of the US administration alone.”

They stressed that they are “independent organizations that do not work on behalf of any government,” and that their “goal continues to be strengthening and supporting reform efforts that are ongoing in Geneva” to reform the council.

The groups were responding directly to a Wednesday letter from Haley in which she blamed them for the US decision to withdraw its membership.

Haley accused the NGO’s of “undermining” attempts to improve the Human Rights Council and playing a “deconstructive” role for human rights. “You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human issue,” wrote Haley.

Contradicting US values

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty responded in a Thursday statement that the US decision to withdraw, rather than “reforming the Council from within,” was “unfortunate.”

“To make cooperation with non-governmental organizations conditional on their alignment to the US’s policies and views contradicts the values that the US has traditionally espoused at the United Nations,” Shetty wrote.

He continued, “Engaging only with those who agree with you would surely leave you with an ever-shrinking group of people to talk to.”

Haley warned the council a year ago that the US might withdraw unless it made substantial reforms. Speaking at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, she condemned the UN body for its inaction on multiple human rights crises, including Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its failure to condemn human rights abuses committed under Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

She also cited the council’s “obsessive mistreatment of Israel.”

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty responded in a Thursday statement that the US decision to withdraw, rather than “reforming the Council from within,” was “unfortunate.”

“To make cooperation with non-governmental organizations conditional on their alignment to the US’s policies and views contradicts the values that the US has traditionally espoused at the United Nations,” Shetty wrote.

He continued, “Engaging only with those who agree with you would surely leave you with an ever-shrinking group of people to talk to.”

Haley warned the council a year ago that the US might withdraw unless it made substantial reforms. Speaking at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, she condemned the UN body for its inaction on multiple human rights crises, including Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its failure to condemn human rights abuses committed under Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

She also cited the council’s “obsessive mistreatment of Israel.”

“America has a proud legacy as a champion of human rights … we do support the rights of all people to have freedoms bestowed on them by their creator,” Haley said June 19 when she announced the withdrawal with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “That is why we are withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, an organization that is not worthy of its name.”