Pillay ‘regrets’ Israeli boycott of UN rights council 22Oct12 October 22, 2012

Naharnet  Newsdesk   -   20 October 2012

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay lamented Thursday Israel’s decision to boycott the Human Rights Council after it announced in March it would investigate Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

“All indications are that they (Israel) will not be participating” in a meeting of the council early next year set to review the human rights situation in a number of countries including Israel, the High Commissioner for Human Rights told reporters in Geneva.

“I regret this. I hope that they will reconsider the matter,” she said.

“I also think that it is an unfortunate decision on the part of the government of Israel to cut off relations with my office,” she said, adding that she had sent a letter to Israeli authorities to express her “dismay” and “surprise.”

Pillay, a former South African judge who started a second term last month, stressed that no other country had ever refused to cooperate with her office or to take part in the Human Rights Council’s country reviews, and if Israel maintains its position, “it would be unprecedented.”

Isreal cut all ties with the 47-member state council in March, after it announced it would probe how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.

Israel is not a member of the council, but it must still submit to the council’s Universal Periodic Review on the human rights situation in the country.

In an email to Agence France Presse, the Israeli mission to the U.N. in Geneva said the country’s relations with the council would remain suspended for “as long as it will be treated differently compared to other countries.”

In addition to the settlement probe, Israel is critical of the fact that it is the only country with a set place on the agenda — agenda item number seven — during each of the council’s sessions.

Israel also decries that it is one of the countries that have been the subject of the largest number of council resolution votes.

“Israel feels discriminated against and we believe our approach is correct and legitimate,” Israeli mission spokeswoman Arielle Godin told AFP in the email.

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