Israel’s willingness to release Palestinian prisoners
who killed its citizens
shows that it is serious about peace, Ambassador Eviatar Manor told the United
Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, as his country made its first
appearance before that Geneva based body since it cut off ties a year-and-a-half
“All of them have blood on their hands; all of them have murdered
Israelis. Their release, I believe, illustrates Israel’s determination to reach
an agreement with our Palestinians neighbors that will, once and for all, end
the conflict,” said Manor. He is Israel’s representative to the UN in
Although full formal ties between Israel and the UNHRC have not
yet been restored, Israel when faced with a final deadline, agreed to
participate in the council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of its
human rights record.
Manor spoke hours before the expected release of 26
Palestinian prisoners. That release and the peace process in general, played a
large role in the three-hour debate that involved statements from 73 UN
Israel’s report of its human rights record, dealt with human
rights struggles for Israeli citizens in areas of the country within the pre-
1967 lines and east Jerusalem, where Israeli law fully applies.
the nations that spoke at the review expressed their concern about Israel’s
treatment of Beduin in the Negev, Israeli Arabs, asylum seekers and
The Untied States asked that Israel ensure that the Orthodox
Rabbinate could not discriminate against non-Orthodox Jews, non-Jews and
But the bulk of the debate dealt with Israel’s treatment of
Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel was also chastised for its actions in east
There were multiple calls by UN states for Israel to withdraw
from the West Bank and east Jerusalem as well as for the end of its blockade of
There were some countries that called on Israel to recognize the
Palestinian right of return, including the Palestine Liberation Organization
“The main challenge Israel is facing is our relations
with the Palestinians,” Manor said.
Israel desires to make peace with the
Palestinians and has welcomed the renewed negotiations with them, he
Manor explained that Israel faces security threats, including from
terror attacks, that make it difficult to always protect human
“Such challenges strain the delicate balance between effective
steps necessary to overcome the various threats to a state’s security and the
protection of human rights,” Manor said.
The PLO’s representative
attacked Israel’s delayed participation in the UPR process and its decision to
cut its ties with the council, saying that Israel should be obligated under the
same rules and regulations as other countries.
“Israel only understands
the language of pressure,” the PLO representative told the council.
explained that Israel’s report had no value because it did not address all the
Manor told the council that Israel had many reservations about
participating in the review.
“It was not an easy decision to make,” he
Manor explained that it had cut its ties with the council in March
2012, because since the UNHRC’s inception in 2006 it had singled Israel out
either for special sessions, investigatory missions or censures, more than any
“Israel made its decision [to appear at the UPR] because
we respect UN resolutions, human rights in general and human rights mechanisms
in particular,” he said. “I will continue my efforts to restore our relations
with the council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
After the press conference he clarified that full ties had not
yet been restored with the UNHRC, but that efforts to do so were
He explained that Israel needed to be treated like other member
states in two critical ways. It must belong to a regional group in Geneva, in
this case the Western Group.
And the mandate that Israel be debated at
every session, under a procedure called Agenda Item 7, must be abolished, he
Israel’s UPR will be evaluated by Sierra Leone, Venezuela and
Maldives. Their report is to be delivered on Thursday and voted upon on Friday.