Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R.
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Israel fears the United Nations is on the cusp of announcing the membership of
its fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements, a move it claims could harm
efforts to rekindle the frozen peace process.
Already on June 14, UN
Human Rights Council president Laura Dupuy Lasserre responded to a query on the
matter at a meeting with NGO representatives in Geneva.
She said there
should be recommendations for members of the fact-finding mission by the end of
the 20th session on July 6.
In March the Council passed a resolution to
establish such a probe, the first of its kind to explore West Bank
settlements – which the council already believes are illegal under international
It asked Lasserre to appoint people to the investigatory committee,
and to report on the implementation of the resolution.
the mission will be asked to look at the implications on Palestinians of West
Bank settlements as well as Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
a high probability that by the end of this session, we will have a fact-finding
mission with three prominent members,” said Eviatar Manor, deputy
director-general for international organizations at the Foreign
Israel knows that the council president’s office has approached
a number of candidates, Manor said.
“This is not an opportune time to
speed up the establishment of the fact-finding mission,” he
“There are nascent attempts to revitalize the Israeli
Palestinian talks, whether we call them dialogue or
Actions like the establishment of a settlement probe could
harm those efforts and push the sides further apart,he said Diplomatic efforts
by like-minded countries to lobby Lasserre not to appoint the fact-finding
mission have “fallen on deaf ears,” he added.
Already in March, when the
investigation was announced, Israel cut its ties with both the council and the
office of UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, who visited Israel only last
“It is important for us to remind everyone that we are not going to
cooperate with this fact-finding mission. They will not be allowed to enter the
country or go to the West Bank,” Manor said.
He noted that this would be
the third probe by the council into Israeli activities in the last four years.
In 2009, the council appointed a fact-finding mission into Israel’s military
incursion in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, headed by South African jurist
In 2010 it ordered an investigation into Israeli
actions aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla that lead to the death of nine-Turkish
Manor charged that these probes into Israeli actions are not
about the subjects under investigation, but rather are political tools to attack
and delegitimize Israel.
The issue of the settlements is best addressed
by Israel and the Palestinians through negotiations for a final-status
agreement, Manor said.
Attempts to address the issue outside of
negotiations limits the scoop of future compromises toward a solution to the
conflict, he said.