Israel has cut contact with the United Nations Human Rights Council after its launch last week of an international investigation into settlements in the West Bank.
The decision means that the fact-finding team the council planned to send to the West Bank will not be allowed to enter Israel, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We are not working with them any more,” Palmor said. “We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over.” He added, “There won’t be working relations with them, conversations, passing papers, making visits, exchanging information, consulting one another, attending meetings. That’s work, and it will not take place.”
The international investigation was launched on Thursday, with the United States isolated in voting against the initiative brought by the Palestinian Authority. At the time Israel’s Ambassador, Aharon Leshno-Yaar denounced “the level of hypocrisy and double standards” in the council. Adding that the resolution was “unjustified” and “counterproductive”. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also dismissed the as “hypocritical” and having an “automatic majority against Israel.”
The current president of the Human Rights Council, Uruguay’s Laura Dupuy Lasserre, called Israel’s decision to cut ties “very unfortunate.” Asked by Reuters to comment further, she said recent history showed Israel would not stop the fact-finding mission from gathering information by not cooperating with it, even if it could not physically gain access to the West Bank or Israel.
It is still unclear whether Israel may take additional steps and cut off monthly tax revenues that it transfers to the PA, as it did following UNESCO’S decision to admit Palestine into the organisation in November. One senior diplomat hinted that this may not be the case, telling the Jerusalem Post that there were other measures that could be taken.