Israel to lobby against UN investigation of settlements

Israel to lobby against UN investigation of settlements

Israel working to block proposal for Human Rights Council fact-finding mission

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The settlement of Tekoa, southeast of Jerusalem (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
The settlement of Tekoa, southeast of Jerusalem (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Palestinians intend to push the UN on Monday to investigate how Israeli settlements in the West Bank impact their rights, Maariv reported.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is deliberating a Palestinian proposal for a fact-finding mission to investigate the effect of the settlements on Palestinian economic and social rights. The council, based in Geneva, will vote on the proposal later this week.

Israeli diplomats will work to persuade member nations not to support the establishment of such a mission. Maariv said that Israel sees the move as an obstacle to reviving peace negotiations and has declared that it will not cooperate with such a mission if it is formed.

The UN Human Rights Council is the same body that approved the committee led by Richard Goldstone, which investigated alleged war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead; established a committee to review Israeli’s legal system; and set up a committee to review the Turkish flotilla incident in 2010.

The move comes against a background of stalled peace negotiations after low-level talks held in Amman in January failed to yield any progress.

For several years, during the March sessions of the Human Rights Council, the Palestinian delegation has raised the issues of self-determination for Palestinians, the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and a condemnation of the settlements.

However, this year the Palestinians will go beyond asking for a condemnation of the settlements and proposed instead that the council establish a fact-finding mission.

Maariv reported that the Foreign Ministry has instructed its ambassadors in the council member states to lobby against the Palestinian request. Jerusalem has made it clear that it sees the request for a mission as a serious obstacle to renewing peace talks, Maariv said, and Israel will neither cooperate nor allow such a mission entry to Judea and Samaria.

Despite the diplomatic efforts, Israel expects the proposal to pass due to the automatic majority that any anti-Israel vote has in the council. European sources told Maariv that it is likely that European Union members of the council will abstain, together with a small number of African nations. The US is expected to vote against it.

The UN Council for Human Rights was established in 2006 and since then it has condemned Israel nine times, eight of them in one year. In 2010 Libya was chosen as a member of the council but later removed in light of the slaughter of hundreds of people during a period of turmoil in that country.

Hamas Legislative Council member Ismail al-Ashqar is scheduled to address the council on Monday concerning members of his council being held in Israeli jails, and is also expected to comment on the recent round of hostilities with Gaza.


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