Israel: UN council probe on West Bank settlements 'flawed and biased'
Israel's Foreign Ministry accuses UN Human Rights Council of signaling out Israel while 'systematically ignoring massive human rights violations' elsewhere.
A UN Human Rights Council mission on West Bank settlements is "flawed and biased," Israel said Friday, accusing the rights body of corruption for again singling out Israel while "systematically ignoring massive human rights violations" elsewhere.
The UN's top human rights body appointed three officials Friday afternoon to conduct a fact-finding mission on how Israel's West Bank settlements affect the lives of Palestinians. The Council president, Uruguay Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre, named three women to the panel: Christine Chanet of France, Unity Dow of Botswana and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan. Dupuy Lasserre said their mission will be to look how the Israeli settlements impact "the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people."
Israel called the action "flawed and biased" and said it will not cooperate with the mission.
"The mission's existence embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries," Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
The UN Human Rights Council, that has a large representation of Arab and Muslim regimes, has long been criticized for heavily focusing on Israel while doing little regarding places where people suffer from serious state violations of their human rights.
Israel severed ties with the Council after the Geneva-based 47-nation council passed a resolution in March to establish such a probe.
"Israel was left with no other choice than to take this decision, after it became apparent that putting the disproportionate focus on Israel, while systematically ignoring massive human rights violations in the very countries who bear responsibility for this focus, only leads to the contempt and degradation of the important cause of universal human rights," Palmor said.
"One example among many: in times when president Assad's regime massacres thousands of its own people, the UNHRC only dedicates it symbolic time, as if to go through the motions, while turning its resources to obsessively focus on Israel, yet again," he said.
The UN already considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and Jerusalem, territory that Israel took control of during the 1967 Six-Day War from Jordan.
West Bank settlements are a core dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state and object to any settlements there.
Settlers view the territory as Israel's biblical heartland.
The issue has paralyzed peace talks for years. Palestinians refuse to resume negotiations until Israel halts settlement construction. Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.