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Israel won´t cooperate with UN ´fact-finding mission´ on settlements (ISRAEL HAYOM) Eli Leon, Mati Tuchfeld, Yori Yalon, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 03/23/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=3636 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Following U.N. Human Rights Council decision to investigate Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, Netanyahu says: “This is a hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel ... it ought to be ashamed of itself.”

The United Nations Human Rights Council is disconnected from reality and has an “automatic” bias against Israel, Prime Minister Benjanmin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday in response to a resolution adopted by the 47-member council to launch a probe into Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem.

In a meeting earlier Thursday, the council condemned Israel’s planned construction of new housing units for Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem neighborhoods, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.

The 47-member forum adopted the resolution to launch an international investigation by a vote of 36 states in favor, including China and Russia, with one against (the United States). Ten abstained, including European Union members Italy and Spain.

The text was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and co-sponsored by states including Cuba and Venezuela.

“In violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, Israel is continuing construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories including east Jerusalem,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram told the talks.

The Council’s resolution called on Israel to take serious measures to prevent settler violence “including confiscation of arms and enforcement of criminal sanctions,” and the protection of Palestinian civilians and property in the territories.

The three investigators are to be named at a later date.

About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day war. Palestinians seek the territory for an independent state along with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay told the council, “Certain human rights challenges … are intrinsically linked to the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements. Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians is one such challenge.”

Netanyahu slammed the council decision to launch a probe, saying, “The Human Rights Council has nothing to do with human rights ... This is hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel.”

“This council ought to be ashamed of itself,” he stressed.

“Until today, the council has made 91 decisions, 39 of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran. One only had to hear the Syrian representative speak today about human rights in order to understand how detached from reality the council is,” Netanyahu said. “Another proof of its detachment from reality came last week when it invited before it a representative of Hamas, an organization whose ideology is based on the murder of innocents.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Friday he is considering returning Israel’s ambassador at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, Army Radio reported.

During a meeting with Singaporean President Tony Tan in Singapore, Lieberman added that he would try to persuade other countries, like the U.S. to withdraw from the U.N. body. He called the HRC’s conduct “hypocritical,” and was quoted by Army Radio as saying, “We’re going to consider our options, including ceasing all cooperation with the Council.”

Lieberman’s comments come after the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday released a statement in response to the HRC’s decision, saying, “The resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish a ‘Fact Finding Mission on the Influence of Settlements on Palestinians’ is yet another surrealistic decision from the workshop of a Council that is instrumentalized as a tool to push for one-sided politicized moves instead of promoting human rights.”

“While all over the Middle East human rights are violated in an unprecedented scale, the HRC ridicules itself by dedicating its time and resources to establishing a superfluous and extravagant body whose sole purpose is to satisfy the Palestinians’ whims and to harm future chances to reach an agreement through peaceful means,” the statement said.

The United States also commented on the HRC’s decision to launch a probe, saying it continued to be “deeply troubled by this Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by the creation of another one-sided United Nations mechanism related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe did not mention the Palestinian request for the probe when she addressed the U.N. forum in Geneva. But she did say that the council was biased and had a disproportionate focus on Israel, adding it should hold all countries to the same standards.

Commenting on the opportunity for the Syrian delegate to complain about Israel’s behavior in the Golan Heights, Donahoe said it was hypocritical to hold a debate that included a resolution on human rights in the Golan, saying it was “motivated by the Syrian regime at a time when it is murdering its own citizens.”

It was inappropriate to prejudge final status issues that could only be resolved through bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine, U.S. political counselor Charles O. Blaha told the Council on Thursday.

“The U.S. position on settlements is clear and has not changed: we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. The status quo is not sustainable for either the Israelis or the Palestinians,” Blaha said.

But Washington could not back a “one-sided resolution that launches an international investigation of Israel,” he said.

A senior official in Jerusalem said on Thursday that Israel will not cooperate with the investigation. “Just as we didn’t cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, which was vindicated by the fact that Goldstone himself later said he made a mistake, so we will not cooperate this time as well,” the official said. “Israel will not offer legitimacy to something which is clearly illegitimate.”

In Geneva, Israel’s Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar denounced “the level of hypocrisy and double standards” in the Council which adopted other resolutions on Thursday on the Golan Heights and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination.

“The resolutions are unjustified and counterproductive. They will add tension and bitterness to an already explosive situation. This Council, by its own doing, is adding fuel to a fire which is our duty to try and extinguish,” Leshno-Yaar said.

Settler leaders also blasted the HCR’s decision. Benny Katzover, chairman of the Samaria Citizens’ Committee, said, “The U.N. one- sidedly supports the Palestinian entity whose goal is to eliminate the Zionist enterprise.”

Davidi Pearl, mayor of Gush Etzion, briefly said, “First they should investigate human rights abuses in Syria.”

In a rare occurrence, some activists on the Left echoed the opposition heard from the right to the HCR’s probe. Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the Peace Now organization, said that “the issue of settlements and their impact on the region is an important issue. The members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which lost its legitimacy as an objective and regional entity long ago, are the last that ones that should probe this issue. Its report against the settlements is likely only to help the settlers in their hasbara [public diplomacy] struggle.”

Conversely, the Palestinian Authority welcomed the HCR’s decision. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said, “This is a new international position that supports Palestinian rights and sends a message to Israel from the international community that settlements are illegal and should be stopped in total,” he said in a statement published by the official WAFA news agency on Thursday.

The Human Rights Council is the body that appointed, among others, the commission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone to investigate the events of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009. The Goldstone report was very critical of Israel, to the point where Goldstone himself published an article in The Washington Post last April in which he said the Council’s “history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”


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