Israeli with muscular dystrophy elected to UN committee for disability rights

An Israeli woman with muscular dystrophy was elected to a United Nations committee on the rights of people with disabilities on Monday and praised by Israeli leaders.

Odelia Fitoussi, 43, is the first Israeli to serve on the committee. According to Israel’s Mission to the United Nations in New York, she was elected to one of nine available locations and supported by 109 countries.

“I am sure that your important voice at the United Nations will have a positive impact on people with disabilities around the world. We are so proud of you! “President Reuven Rivlin tweeted Tuesday morning.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Fitoussi, who was born with a genetic neuromuscular disorder called SMA2, and told her that he valued her “skills and abilities that have led her to be elected to a significant and important position on the international scene “Reading the call from his office.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a body of independent experts charged with overseeing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been signed by almost every country in the world.

Congratulations to Odelia Fittousi, who has been elected to join the @ UN # CRPD Panel on People with Disabilities. I am sure that your vital voice at the United Nations will have a positive impact on people with disabilities around the world. We are so proud of you! @UN_Enable

– Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) December 1, 2020

“I feel privileged to be a member of the CRPD, the place where Israel has partnered in creating a new language for people with disabilities, a language of rights, of pride in who you are, in our uniqueness as people Disabilities that enrich society with all the good that we have built, ”Fitoussi said in a statement.

Fitoussi, an art therapist for children based in Bat Yam, has long advocated the rights of people with disabilities, including by increasing the involvement of teachers with disabilities in the education system.

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said her selection “moved him very much” and was very proud of Israel.

“It is a real triumph of the human spirit,” he said in a statement. “Israel’s extensive experience in the area of ​​the rights of people with disabilities will go a long way in the activities of the committee and will have a positive impact on the lives of many people around the world. I am sure that Odelia will be an excellent ambassador and achieve great things. “

Odelia Fitoussi in a wheelchair with FM Gabi Ashkenazi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem (courtesy of MFA)

Fitoussi’s candidacy was the result of massive diplomatic efforts, according to a joint statement by the New York Mission and the State Department in Jerusalem.

“Fitoussi himself met more than 100 diplomats from all over the world. Erdan discussed her candidacy in his meetings with other UN ambassadors and he even managed to get support from representatives of some Arab countries that normally do not support Israeli candidates in UN bodies, ”the statement said.

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