A diplomatic crisis in the making? In an unprecedented move, Israel
announced that it will boycott a regular review by the UN's Human Rights Council.
According to the BBC, this is the first time any UN member has refused to cooperate with the mandatory review.
In July 2012, the UNHRC
announced its plans to launch a fact-finding mission on how Israel's settlements
in the West Bank affect the Palestinians.
The council said that Israel's planned construction of new housing units in the E1 area "undermines the peace process
and poses a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state."
The Foreign Ministry condemned the decision, calling it "Another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC." Jerusalem immediately announced that "This fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories."
The United States also criticized the Geneva-based committee, saying that it was "Too focused on Israel."
UNHRC hall in Geneva (Photo: AFP)
According to the BBC report, Jerusalem has indeed informed the UN body that it will not cooperate with the fact-finding mission. No UN-member has even shunned any of the international body's committees in such a blatant manner.
The Israeli representatives to the UNHRC were a no-show at the council's Tuesday meeting in the Swiss city, prompting the committee to suspend the meeting.
"After a series of votes and statements and incidents we have decided to suspend our working relations with that body," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.
"I can confirm that there is no change in that policy."
Human Rights Council Spokesman Rolando Gomez said that Israel's unprecedented absence had put the council in "new territory" because attendance at the Universal Periodic Review was mandatory.
The BBC added that Israel's action has "prompted concern that it might undermine the UN's human rights work" as rights experts fear other countries might follow suit.
The United States, despite its criticism of the UNHRC has urged Israel to rethink its position and lend its cooperation to the review.
Israeli human rights groups were critical of Jerusalem's decision to shun the fact-finding mission.
A joint statement by eight groups said: "It is legitimate for Israel to express criticism of the work of the council and its recommendations, but Israel should do so through engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, as it has done in previous sessions."
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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