Israeli Officials Denounce U.N. Rights Council Bid to Study Effects of Settlements (NY) TIMES) By ISABEL KERSHNER JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 03/24/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
NEW YORK TIMES Articles-Index-Top
JERUSALEM — Israeli officials on Friday rejected any prospect of
cooperation with an inquiry called for a day earlier by the United
Nations Human Rights Council into how Israeli settlements affect the
rights of Palestinians.
Israeli officials here called the council resolution seeking the
inquiry a new source of friction between Israel and the Palestinian
leadership, but the Western-backed Palestinian Authority welcomed it.
Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are members of the council.
The measure was adopted with 36 votes in favor, 10 abstentions, and a
sole no vote by the United States.
“Israel has no intention to cooperate,” said Mark Regev, a spokesman
for the Israeli government, which has a long history of discord with
the council in Geneva. “We do not want to legitimize what is
“Instead of dealing with real issues of human rights in the region,”
Mr. Regev continued, “the council has proven itself a disreputable
body that is manipulated by autocracies with atrocious human rights
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told Army Radio on
Friday that Israel was weighing its steps, “including ending all
cooperation with the council.”
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of
the Palestinian Authority, 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.”
The United Nations and much of the world considers the settlements in
the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that Israel captured
from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, as a violation of
international law. Continuing growth in the settlements has been a
continuing frustration for the Obama administration. Its 2009 demand
that Israel freeze construction yielded a 10-month moratorium, but it
expired and the Palestinians will not return to talks without a new
Israel has agreed to dismantle some small, unapproved settler
outposts in the West Bank, but maintains that those settlements it
has officially approved are legal and that their fate must be settled
in bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians.
Hostility between Israel and the council peaked in 2009 when a fact-
finding mission led by Judge Richard Goldstone investigated Israel’s
three-week offensive in Gaza that ended that January, and published a
scathing report concluding that both the Israeli military and
Palestinian armed groups firing rockets against Israel committed
possible war crimes. Israel utterly rejected the accusations and in
April 2011, Judge Goldstone retracted his statement that Israel had
intentionally killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Other members of
the panel stood by the conclusions of the report.
On Thursday, after the council’s resolution passed, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said: “This is a hypocritical council
with an automatic majority against Israel. This council ought to be
ashamed of itself. Until today, the council has made 91 decisions, 39
of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry added that the council “ridicules
itself” by working “to satisfy the Palestinians’ whims and to harm
future chances to reach an agreement through peaceful means.”
Further, the ministry said, “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
Also on Friday, Israel facilitated a delivery of fuel to the Hamas-
run Gaza Strip to provide temporary relief for a fuel crisis stemming
from a dispute between Hamas and Egypt. Shortages have caused power
cuts of up to 18 hours a day in recent weeks.
With the situation in Gaza becoming more urgent, and the supply to
hospitals threatened, Hamas agreed to the assistance from the West
Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Israel as a temporary measure.
“This is no solution,” Adham Abu Salmia, a Gaza health official, told
The Associated Press.
At the request of the Palestinian Authority, which has no access to
Gaza, Israel allowed some 450,000 liters of fuel to be trucked
through its Kerem Shalom border crossing on Friday, when it is
usually closed. Maj. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli authority
responsible for the crossings, said that amount would be enough for
no more than two days.
Over the last year, Hamas stopped paying the Palestinian Authority
for Israeli-supplied fuel and relied on cheaper fuel smuggled through
tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. In recent months Egypt has
tried to end the practice and to have Gaza import fuel from Egypt
legally, also via the Israeli border crossing, a request that Hamas
refused. Hamas wants the fuel to arrive directly from Egypt to Gaza.
Hamas staged protests Friday in Gaza to urge Egypt to let the flow of
its fuel resume. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Mashri called on the
Egyptians to open the border with Gaza, The Associated Press
reported. (Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 03/24/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY