Israel Cuts Ties With UN Human Rights Council Over Probe Of Occupation

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on March 26 2012 3:33 PM
Overview of the Human Rights Council special session on the situation in Syria at the United Nations in Geneva
The Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. REUTERS

Israel severed ties Monday with the United Nations Human Rights Council after it voted to initiate an investigation into human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the council of harboring an anti-Israel bias, and instructed his ambassador to the Geneva-based body to stop all contact with High Commissioner Navi Pillay.

We maintained some kind of a relationship with them despite not being members in the council, said Lieberman. We will no longer appear before the council or even answer their calls. If they want to visit -- we shall not assist them.

The resolution, which was passed by the council's 47 member states last Thursday, opens up an investigation into new Israeli settlements being built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The resolution also calls on the Israeli government to disarm settlers and implement serious (new) measures, sparking fury in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is a council that should be ashamed of itself. The U.N. Human Rights Council has no connection to human rights, Netanyahu stated Thursday.

This council has proven once more that it is detached from reality, by inviting a member of Hamas – an organization whose creed advocated the murder of innocent people -- to speak before it.

They systematically and serially make all kinds of decisions and condemnations against Israel without even symbolically considering our positions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Retuers on Monday.

The probe ignited the second clash between the United Nations and Israel in five months. In October, Palestine was voted into the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, a move that was viewed as anti-Israel and anti-peace by Israel and the United States, which cut off funding for the agency.

In the latest controversy, the United States was the only Human Rights Council member to vote against the West Bank investigations. Spain, Italy and eight other countries abstained from the vote.

While some Israelis, like Lieberman, called the council action “diplomatic terrorism,” the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the U.N., Ibrahim Khraishi, countered by saying that Israel's decision was damaging the possibility of reaching peace.

“We don’t want to isolate Israel, but when we see that Israel hasn’t stopped taking over our lands, we must act. If this situation continues, how will we be able to apply a two-state solution? The occupying power is violating international law. … One day there will even be limits on the air that we breathe.”

On Monday, Lieberman said Israel was working on its own plan to end the stagnation and revive peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

There is no calm in Gaza, he said, according to Israel's Ynet News. We cannot ignore the situation in the south. They already built an army, and we cannot wait until they can threaten every corner of the country.

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