Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided "to cut all ties with the UN's Human Rights forum" following its decision to probe how settlements may be infringing on Palestinians' rights, a senior state official said Monday.
"We maintained some kind of a relationship with them despite not being members in the council," he said. "We will no longer appear before the council or even answer their calls. If they want to visit – we shall not assist them."
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Last week, the HRC passed a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israel's West Bank settlements may be infringing on Palestinians' rights. The council called on Israel to take steps like seizing weapons in order to prevent settler violence. It is sending a delegation to the territories to check the effect settlements have on the Palestinian people.
The Foreign Ministry said in response that the council was being used as a tool to further unilateral political steps instead of promoting human rights.
UN Human Rights Council at work (Photo: AFP)
The Palestinians, the official added, were adopting a strategy of unilateralism aimed at avoiding an agreement. "They link everything to settlements," he said. "Attempts to spearhead uncoordinated projects in Area C as well as efforts in the International Court of Justice are meant to impede any political move."
The official added that the Palestinians' aim is to achieve UN recognition using unilateral means.
Despite the bold move to sever ties with the UN council, the Foreign Ministry remains concerned about the political stalemate. Minister Lieberman is working on a series of unspecified steps to end the deadlock.
'Israeli decision won't stop HRC'
The UN's Human Rights Council said Israel's decision was "regrettable." HRC President Laura Dupuy Lasserre said that the decision was "very unfortunate," adding that she has yet to receive a formal notification of the matter.
"I have seen various reports in the Israeli media about this, but I have not received any official confirmation," she said,
"I have no doubt that it is in the interest of Israel to cooperate with the Human Rights Council on this investigative mission, not least so that it can explain its own policies and actions to the independent commissioners once they are appointed," she said in a statement.
Asked to comment further, she said recent history showed Israel would not stop the fact-finding mission from gathering information by deciding not to cooperate with it, even if it could not physically gain access to the West Bank or Israel.
"The most recent example of refusal to cooperate is Syria, which did not permit either the Human Rights Council mandated Fact-finding Mission or the Commission of Inquiry to enter the country. On the other hand, in the case of the other two Commissions of Inquiry that took place in 2011, both Libya and Cote d'Ivoire did cooperate, and allowed the Commissioners to visit."
Meanwhile, Hamas slammed Israel's decision, calling it a "Zionist attempt to blackmail" international institutions that criticize its policies.
"This is proof of the vulnerability the Zionist regime is facing vis-à-vis human rights and the UN," Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.
He further lauded the Human Rights Council's decision to order its probe, saying it will "create a broad international consensus as to the oppression of the Palestinian people and the justice of their cause."
AFP contributed to this report
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