(photo credit: Reuters)
A UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements is set to release its report in Geneva late Thursday morning.
Israel cut its ties with the council when it first ordered the probe last March. Jerusalem refused to cooperate with the three-member mission or to allow it entry into Israel, including into Area C of the West Bank, where the settlements are located.
The settlements probe is the sixth council investigation into Israeli activity in the Palestinian territories or on its borders, including in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The most highly publicized council probe was the 2009 Goldstone investigation into Israeli military activity in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 under the IDF’s Operation Case Lead.
But the settlements’ report is the first one issued since the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian status to that of an observer nation in November, a move that could allow it state rights before the International Criminal Court.
The Palestinians have already threatened to bring the issue of West Bank settlements before the ICC.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the best way to address the issue of settlements was through a negotiated peace process, but that the Palestinians have refused to talk directly with Israel.
“The question of settlements, as everyone knows, is one of the core issues between Israel and the Palestinians. It will not find any solution outside the framework of negotiations,” he said.
If the council wants to contribute to human rights, it should do its utmost to enable the resumption of peace talk, he said.
“Publishing a one-sided and biased report will only add insult to injury, and confusion to the distortion,” he said.
The three-member panel on the fact-finding mission, Christine Chanet of France, Asma Jahangir of Pakistan and Unity Dow of Botswana, plan to hold a press conference in Geneva on Thursday to discuss their report.
The Human Rights Council is set to debate the report on March 18.