UN human rights body to probe Israel´s settlement activities in West Bank (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 03/23/12)
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The United Nations´ Human Rights Council voted on Thursday to appoint
a panel charged with evaluating the effects of Israeli settlement
construction on Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and East
According to the text of the decision, the UN will "dispatch an
independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by
the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the
implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people
throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East
The committee´s mandate will be to submit a report on the topic to
the council. The decision also called on Israel "not to obstruct the
process of investigation and to cooperate fully with the mission."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted harshly to the decision,
calling the body a "hypocritical council with an automatic majority
against Israel." He added that the council "should be ashamed of
itself, and has nothing to do with human rights."
Netanyahu added that out of 91 decisions made by the UN body to date,
39 dealt with Israel. "Only three of the decisions dealt with Syria,
and only one with Iran. It was enough to hear the Syrian ambassador
speaking today about human rights to understand the extent which the
council is out of touch with reality."
Thirty-six states voted in favor of the decision, while ten states
abstained, including the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Poland,
Costa Rica, Italy and Spain. The United States was the only country
to vote against it.
Israel´s ambassador to the UN in Geneva Aharon Leshno-Yaar criticized
the decision. "Despite the fact that this is my fourth year in
Geneva, I am still stunned by the hypocrisy of the Human Rights
Council," he said in a speech.
"This council itself is adding fuel to the fire and fanning the
flames which it should be trying to put out. Today will not be
remembered as a great day for this council," he added.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Khraishisaid Israel´s
occupation should be condemned as a violation of human rights.
"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," he added.
U.S. ambassador to the UN in Geneva said that the decision harmed
efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
and would not help protect the human rights of Israelis and
Palestinians. "We don´t accept the legitimacy of construction in the
settlements, but we are disturbed by this one-sided and biased
decision," she said.
"Anyone who supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state
must support efforts to renew negotiations and refrain from taking
steps that harm this effort… This won´t promote peace, it will only
push the sides further away from one another," the ambassador added.
Syria´s ambassador accused Israel of accelerating settlement
construction, which he deemed a violation of the Geneva Conventions
and an "act of piracy."
The decision was one of five approved by the council on Thursday
which were critical of Israel. Others dealt with Israel´s occupation
of the Golan Heights, the Palestinian´s right to self-determination,
the state of human rights in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the
implementation of the Goldstone report´s recommendations following
Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009.
Israel´s Foreign Ministry said in response, "The Palestinians must
understand that they can´t have it both ways: they can´t enjoy
cooperation with Israel and at the same time initiate political
clashes in international forums. Had the Palestinians wanted to solve
the settlements issue, they would resume without delay a direct and
unconditional negotiation on all core issues within the framework of
a comprehensive agreement." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 03/23/12)
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