Is­rael bars U.N. team from prob­ing set­tle­ments

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY AMY TEIBEL

JERUSALEM | Is­rael cut work­ing re­la­tions with the U.N. Hu­man Rights Coun­cil on Mon­day and will bar a U.N. team from en­ter­ing Is­rael or the West Bank for a planned in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Jewish set­tle­ments, the For­eign Min­istry said.

Is­rael ac­cuses the coun­cil of hav­ing a pro­nounced anti-is­rael bias be­cause of what it says is its dis­pro­por­tion­ate fo­cus on Is­raeli pol­icy to­ward the Pales­tini­ans.

Is­raeli lead­ers have been in an up­roar over the coun­cil’s adop­tion of a res­o­lu­tion last week con­demn­ing Jewish set­tle­ment con­struc­tion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its decision to send a fact-find­ing mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate such ac­tiv­ity.

On Mon­day, For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man an­nounced Is­rael is sev­er­ing work­ing ties with the coun­cil.

“It means that we’re not go­ing to work with them. We’re not go­ing to let them carry out any kind of mis­sion for the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, in­clud­ing this probe,” said For­eign Min­istry spokesman Yi­gal Pal­mor.

The Pales­tini­ans are pre­par­ing set­tle­ment maps and pho­tos to present to the coun­cil, said se­nior Pales­tinian of­fi­cial Na­bil Shaath. He said Is­rael will not be able to stop the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by cut­ting ties with the coun­cil.

“We will go to any in­ter­na­tional body that can in­ves­ti­gate and im­pose sanc­tions,” he said.

Much of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity sees set­tle­ment con­struc­tion on oc­cu­pied lands the Pales­tini­ans seek for a fu­ture state as a ma­jor im­ped­i­ment to peace­mak­ing, and has pres­sured Is­rael to freeze it.

Is­rael has moved 500,000 Is­raelis to the West Bank and East Jerusalem since cap­tur­ing the ar­eas, along with Gaza, in the 1967 Mideast war. Is­rael with­drew sol­diers and set­tlers from Gaza in 2005, though it still con­trols ac­cess by air, sea and land.

The Pales­tini­ans say con­tin­ued set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion pre-empts the out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions. Is­rael, which re­fuses to halt con­struc­tion, says the fate of set­tle­ments and the re­lated is­sue of the final borders of a Jewish and a Pales­tinian state must be de­ter­mined through ne­go­ti­a­tions, not de­mands.

Since its cre­ation in 2006, the Geneva-based coun­cil has fo­cused heav­ily on al­leged abuses by Is­rael. Af­ter the United States joined in 2009, the coun­cil in­creas­ingly has ad­dressed hu­man rights prob­lems in other coun­tries. Last year, it cre­ated a spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tor for Iran, held emer­gency meet­ings on Libya and Syria, and dis­patched teams of ex­perts to probe abuses in those coun­tries.

The coun­cil likely will keep pass­ing res­o­lu­tions on Is­rael while the oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tinian land con­tin­ues, its pres­i­dent, Uruguayan diplo­mat Laura Dupuy Lasserre, said last week.

Is­rael has had un­easy re­la­tions with the U.N. for decades, in large part be­cause of the pro-pales­tinian ma­jor­ity in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, though the United States has used its veto power mul­ti­ple times to block anti-is­rael res­o­lu­tions in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

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