The Human Rights Council.
A Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva October 22, 2013. Photo by Reuters
Text size
related tags
UN

The United Nations Human Rights Council's Western nations group has decided to upgrade Israel's status at the agency, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Friday.

Israel has been invited to join the UNHRC's Western European and Others Group, a development that stands to ease Israel's isolation within the often-critical UN. Among the group's members are the U.K., Germany, France and Canada, with the U.S. serving as an observer.

The invitation was extended on Friday afternoon at the conclusion of a 48-hour silent procedure that allowed members of the WEOG to voice their reservations and concerns over Israel's admission. No country submitted an objection.

The group is expected to release an official announcement on the matter on Monday.

"This is a successful conclusion to a diplomatic effort waged by the Foreign Ministry for several months," an official within the ministry said.

Israel's admission to the Western European and Others Group has been made possible after Israel agreed to resume ties with the UNHRC, ending a boycott that had endured for more than a year and a half. As part of the deal, Israel appeared at the council’s Universal Periodic Review on human rights issues three weeks ago. 

The step also comes in the wake of a diplomatic push by six of Israel’s allies. On November 6, the ambassadors of the U.K., Australia, Canada, Germany, France and the U.S. sent a letter to the UN’s institutions in Geneva and to the ambassador of Spain, who heads the WEOG. In the letter, the six ambassadors wrote that the time had come to bring Israel into the regional group.

“We, the undersigned, would like by this letter to recall Israel’s longstanding request to join the WEOG regional group in Geneva. We are strongly supportive of Israel’s membership at the earliest opportunity. We request that you kindly include this issue on the agenda of the next WEOG meeting in Geneva, to be held as soon as possible,” the letter read.