Israel to re-engage with UN-human rights body

Published: Updated:

Israel has vowed to re-engage with the UN Human Rights Council, six months after it became the first country to boycott a review of its rights record, an official said Friday.

“The president (of the Human Rights Council) received a letter from Israel this week to express the desire to re-engage discussion to come back to the Human Rights Council,” the UN body’s spokesman Rolando Gomez told reporters.

Israel’s review was now likely to be scheduled for October 29, he added.

The letter from Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Eviator Manor, was later released to the media by the council.

In the document, dated June 3, Manor said that he intended to continue a “close and fruitful dialogue” with Poland’s ambassador, Remigiusz Henczel, who is currently at the helm of the 47-nation rights council.

“I wish to cooperate with you and pursue a diplomatic engagement with a view to positively resolve all outstanding issues in Israel’s complex relationship with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms,” Manor wrote.

Israel is not part of the council but, like all 193 UN member states, it is required to undergo Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of its human rights situation.

Its absence from January’s review session came as no surprise.

Israel cut all ties with the council last March after the body announced that it would probe how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of Palestinians.

The Jewish state has come under widespread criticism for ramping up its construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories, notably in the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Israel has long accused the Human Rights Council of singling it out, noting that it is the only country to have a specific agenda item dedicated to it at every meeting of the council, and that the body has passed an inordinate number of resolutions against it.

Its failure to show up for its UPR marked the first time since the reviews began in 2007 that a country under evaluation had been absent without explanation.

When Haiti delayed its UPR in early 2010 its justification was the devastating earthquake that hit the country that year, claiming more than 300,000 lives.