United Nations Human Rights Council 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel seeks to re-establish ties with the United Nations Human Rights
Council in exchange for a pledge of fair treatment from the
international body with a seven year record of unfairly singling out the
Jewish state, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
“After much deliberation I have recently agreed to diplomatic engagement
with the council to see if we can arrive at understandings and
guarantees that will enable our return to the council by ensuring that
fair play and international standards are applied toward the state of
Israel,” Elkin said Tuesday at the Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem.
A delegation of officials is expected to head soon for Geneva to try and
repair the relationship between Israel and the council, according to
Israel broke off ties with the council in March of 2012, to protest its
decision to send a fact-finding mission to probe Israeli settlement
activity over the pre-1967 lines.
But when Israel refused to participate in the council’s Universal
Periodic Review of its human rights record last January, the
international community urged it to reconsider.
Israel supports the UPR process through which the council reviews the
human rights record of all 193 UN member states. The Council received
cooperation from all UN member states during its first round of UPRs,
including from Israel in 2008.
Israel was one of 14 countries scheduled for review last January. It
refused to participate because of its March 2012 decision to cut ties
with the council.
If Israel continues to abstain from the UPR, it will be the first country to ignore the human rights review.
The international community is concerned that Israel’s abstention will
open the door for other countries, including those known as serious
human rights abusers, to similarly ignore the UPR.
At the last moment, Israel agreed to delay the review until November. But next Thursday
the council plans to approve the UPR for the other 13 countries that
were debated in January. At that time, the council president must give
at an update about Israel’s status with regard to that review.
The international community and the UN hopes that the president will be
able to say that Israel is participating in the review, or that at the
very least there is an ongoing dialogue about its possible
On Tuesday night at the Global Forum on Combatting Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, Elkin explain Israel’s position with regard to the council.
Since its inception in 2006, 43 of the 103 resolutions against
individual countries were issued against Israel, Elkin said. Similarly,
he said, six of its 19 emergency sessions were about Israel.
Israel is the only country that has a space on the debate schedule for UNHRC each session, called Agenda Item 7.
“Can such a miserable record be defined as anything but anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Israelism?” he asked. It was this kind of discrimination, he said, that caused Israel to cut its teis with the council.
“Many countries have asked us to change our policy” he said.
Israel should not expect to be perpetually discriminated against at the
council, Elkin said. The council should change its treatment of Israel
as part of the restoration of ties, he said.
at the opening of the UNHRC’s 23rd session, United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay took issue with Israel’s
treatment of Palestinian prisoners and its continued settlement
“I remain deeply concerned by the widespread detention of Palestinians –
nearly 5,000 of whom are currently detained by Israel, many without
charges. I recently requested that Israel provide me with information
on its investigations into allegations of mistreatment of Palestinian
detainees,” PIllay said.
“Furthermore, even during the nine weeks since the last session of this
Council, Israel has continued to expand its settlements, in blatant
violation of international law,” Pillay said.