Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights said Sunday it would present its research materials and reports to an UN fact-finding mission appointed to investigate the affect of the settlements on Palestinians in the West Bank.
Yesh Din intends to present the members of the fact-finding mission with the data it has collected over eight years, assembled in reports the organization has published periodically about the status of human rights in the territories.
Israel announced over the summer that it would not cooperate with the mission, which the government sees as an attempt to delegitimize Israel.
“Yesh Din calls on the government of Israel not to bury its head in the sand and to amend its decision to boycott the fact finding mission,” the organization said in a statement on Sunday.
“The question of settlement construction in the occupied territories is controversial inside Israeli society as well as being a permanent and constant point of contention between Israel and the international community – including countries considered close to Israel such as the US and EU member states.
“Refusal of the Israeli government to cooperate with the fact-finding mission worsens our international standing and arouses suspicion that Israel has something to hide.”
Yesh Din spokeswoman Hila Aloni said that committee was due to meet in Jordan next week, and when it did, attorney Michael Sfard – the legal adviser for Yesh Din – would present the committee with extensive information.
Aloni said the reports that Yesh Din would provide the fact-finding mission would cover a variety of issues, including “vandalism of Palestinian trees at the hands of settlers, settler taking over private Palestinian land, and Israeli settlers harming Palestinians on an ideological basis, and the police failure to investigate and prosecute such crimes.”
She added: “If there weren’t settlements, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Mark Regev, the prime minister’s spokesman said that Israel does not automatically refuse to cooperate with fact finding missions, but it finds the UN’s Human Rights Council, which formed the mission, to be particularly biased.
“There are many international investigations that we do cooperate with, if the investigations are fair and we believe they’ll look at the issue with an open mind,” Regev said.
As an example, Israel refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council’s plans to investigate the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, but said Israel did cooperate with the UN secretary- general’s investigation and “in the end we got a fair report.”
Regev added: “When we don’t cooperate is when we think it’s a kangaroo court.
With real fact-finding missions, Israel cooperates. When it’s packed against us, we reserve our right to not cooperate.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Michael Sfard was an attorney for Americans for Peace Now. He is not.