Israel to bar UN fact-finding team from entering (AP) Associated Press) By AMY TEIBEL JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 03/26/12 9:09 am ET)
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JERUSALEM – Israel cut working relations with the United Nations
Human Rights Council on Monday and will bar a U.N. team from entering
Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish
settlements, the Foreign Ministry said.
Israel accuses the council of having a pronounced anti-Israel bias
because of what it says is its disproportionate focus on Israeli
policy toward the Palestinians.
Israeli leaders have been in an uproar over the council´s adoption of
a resolution last week condemning Jewish settlement construction in
the West Bank and east Jerusalem and its decision to send a fact-
finding mission to investigate such activity.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Israel was
severing working ties with the council.
"It means that we´re not going to work with them. We´re not going to
let them carry out any kind of mission for the Human Rights Council,
including this probe," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
The Palestinians are preparing settlement maps and photos to present
to the council, said senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. He
said Israel will not be able to stop the investigation by cutting
ties with the council.
"We will go to any international body that can investigate and impose
sanctions," he said.
Much of the international community sees settlement construction on
occupied lands the Palestinians seek for a future state as a major
impediment to peacemaking, and has pressured Israel to freeze it.
Israel has moved 500,000 Israelis to the West Bank and east Jerusalem
since capturing the areas, along with Gaza, in the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it
still controls access by air, sea and land.
The Palestinians say continued settlement expansion pre-empts the
outcome of negotiations. Israel, which refuses to halt construction,
says the fate of settlements and the related issue of the final
borders of a Jewish and a Palestinian state must be determined
through negotiations, not demands.
Since its creation in 2006, the Geneva-based council has focused
heavily on alleged abuses by Israel. After the United States joined
in 2009, the council has increasingly addressed human rights problems
in other countries. Last year, it created a special investigator for
Iran, held emergency meetings on Libya and Syria, and dispatched
teams of expert to probe abuses in those countries.
The council will likely keep passing resolutions on Israel while the
occupation of Palestinian land continues, its president, Uruguayan
diplomat Laura Dupuy Lasserre, said last week.
Israel has had uneasy relations with the U.N. for decades, in large
part because of the pro-Palestinian majority in the General Assembly,
though the United States has used its veto power multiple times to
block anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council. Israel halted
its marginal funding to UNESCO in the fall after the U.N. cultural
agency recognized Palestine as a member.
Relations with the U.N. were especially acrimonious over a U.N.-
commissioned report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone on
Israel´s military offensive in Gaza three years ago, aimed at
stopping daily rocket attacks. Israel refused to cooperate with
Goldstone´s team, though it didn´t bar it from entering.___Associated
Press writer Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed reporting. (© 2012
The Associated Press 03/26/12)
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