Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R.
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Israel does not plan to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding
mission into West Bank settlement activity that was appointed in Geneva on
“The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and
its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories,” Foreign
Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
“Its existence embodies the
inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the
hijacking of the important human rights agenda by nondemocratic countries,” he
The council ordered the probe at its 19th session in March and
asked its president to appoint a three-member panel. The Human Rights Council
considers Israeli settlement activity to be illegal under international law and
the findings of the probe are expected to reflect this view.
at the end of the council’s 20th session in Geneva, its President Laura Dupuy
Lasserre said she had appointed jurists Christine Chanet of France, Unity Dow of Botswana and Asma Jahangir of
Pakistan to the panel.
The “three highly distinguished individuals” would
investigate the implications of “Israeli settlements for the civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied
Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem,” Lasserre said.
called on Israel “not to obstruct the process of the investigation and to
cooperate fully with the mission.”
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But in Jerusalem on Friday, Palmor
defended the government’s decision, which it took in March, not to cooperate
with the fact-finding mission and to cut its ties with the
“Israel was left with no other choice than to make this
decision, after it became apparent that putting the disproportionate focus on
Israel while systematically ignoring massive human rights violations in the very
countries who bear responsibility for this focus, only leads to the contempt and
degradation of the important cause of universal human rights,” Palmor
The fact-finding mission was yet another “blatant expression of the
singling out of Israel at the UNHRC,” he said.
Israel’s decision to cut
its ties with the council should be a wake-up call to democratic countries as to
the council’s corrupt nature, Palmor said.
Hillel Neuer, executive
director of the Geneva-based nonprofit group UN Watch, immediately attacked the
“While there are genuine human rights victims on
all sides, this inquiry’s mandate is imbalanced and lacks credibility,” Neuer
“Its terms were framed in a four-page resolution, co-sponsored by
the Arab and Islamic groups, that omits any reference to Arab terrorism against
Israeli civilians, including the hundreds of rockets fired recently from Gaza
and Sinai into Israeli towns and villages.”
The Human Rights Council on
Friday provided background on the three panel members.
Chanet, who will
chair the committee, was part of the Round Table Conference at the Peace Palace
at The Hague in November 2001, in which the Bangalore Principles of Judicial
Conduct were finalized. She has been a member of the UN Human Rights Committee
since 1996 and was twice its chairwoman.
Jahangir is the president of the
Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and has twice chaired her country’s
Human Rights Commission. She directs the AGHS Legal Aid Cell that provides free
legal assistance to the needy. She has also served as UN special rapporteur on
freedom of religion or belief of the Council of Human Rights. In 1983, she was
imprisoned for her activism against her country’s military regime.
has been commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists since 2004, and
was reelected to the post in 2009. She is a practicing lawyer in Botswana. From
1998 to 2008 she was Botswana’s first female High Court judge. She is also
novelist and has authored books such as Juggling Truths, The Screaming of the
Innocent and Far and Beyond.
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