Israel boycotts U.N. human rights council, first ever country to do so

Israel has long complained of unfair criticism from the U.N. Human Rights Council. (AFP)

Israel has boycotted a review by the U.N.’s human rights council, the first time any country has done so reported the BBC on Wednesday.

The council decided last year to investigate Jewish settlements in the West Bank, this prompted Israel to announce it would no longer cooperate with the body.

Israel has long complained of unfair criticism from the human rights authority.

Representative did not make an appearance at Tuesday’s meeting of the council in Geneva, an appropriate response is being decided.

“After a series of votes and statements and incidents we have decided to suspend our working relations with that body,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor to the Financial Times on Tuesday.

“I can confirm that there is no change in that policy.”

U.N. spokesman Rolando Gomez told the Associated Press that the unprecedented no-show has put the council in “new territory,” as attendance of the Universal Periodic Review is mandatory.

Haiti failed to appear before the council in 2010, however they blamed the devastating earthquake rather than a political disagreement. Besides this all countries - even Syria and North Korea - have attended.

Even Israel's steadfast ally, the United States, urged the country to take part.

The response was made clear in a joint statement by eight Israeli human rights groups: “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.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. has suggested the outcome of Israel’s recent election may lead to peace with the Palestinians.

Right-wing and centre-left blocs won a roughly equal share of seats in Israel's Knesset (parliament) in last week’s vote . Negotiations to set up a ruling coalition are currently underway.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 January 2013 KSA 14:07 - GMT 11:07
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