(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel is expected to formally re-establish full ties with the UN Human Rights
Council now that it received, on Monday, an invitation to the Western Eastern
and Others Group in Geneva – a move that grants it national rights at the
“Israel is now a full member of the regional group in the Human
Rights Council and that means we can play a bigger role in the human rights
activities in Geneva,” said Aharon Leshno Yaar who is the Foreign Ministry
deputy director general for UN and International Organizations.
United Nations member states are divided into regional groupings in New York and
Geneva, through which elections are held for various UN organizations and
Arab nations barred Israel from participating in the Asian group,
which it geographically falls into.
Israel was accepted instead into the
in New York, but those same countries did not allow Israel to join
their regional group in Geneva.
Israel made acceptance to WEOG in Geneva
one of two conditions for ending its boycott of the UNHRC.
ties with the UNHRC
in March 2012 to protest what it said was anti-Israel bias
by that body, which had censured it more than any other country.
had agreed in October to participate in the UNHRC’s Universal Period Review
its human rights record, but said it was waiting for an invitation from WEOG
before it would formally re-establish ties.
Monday’s invitation allows it
to return to the UNHRC. Yaar explained that as WEOG members Israel can “elect
and be elected to positions in the UNHRC. It means that Israel will be able to
participate in related activities such as meetings with senior UN officials.
Invitations to such meetings goes through the [regional] groups,” Yaar
“The invitation to WEOG was the end of many months of serious
diplomatic effort by the foreign ministry and our missions in friendly
countries; especially in European countries, in Canada and the US,” Yaar
“The UNHRC without Israel is a flawed institution. Now with Israel
fully engaged it will have greater credibility. Israel will also enjoy the
recognition of being a full member of the community of nations,” Yaar
In agreeing to reengage with the UNHRC, Israel accepted a
compromise on its second demand, the elimination of “Agenda Item
This is a standing item, under which Israeli treatment of the
Palestinians is debated at every UNHRC session. No other country, but Israel, is
automatically scheduled into the UNHRC agenda.
Yaar said that the EU and
other friends of Israel have decided “to limit significantly their involvement
in discussions under ‘Agenda Item seven’.”