The international community considers all Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal
View of the Jewish settlement of Har Homa near the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The Israeli foreign ministry has decided to cut contact with the United Nations Human Rights Council after it said last week it would investigate Israeli settlements. © Jack Guez - AFP/File
The international community considers all Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal
Last updated: March 27, 2012

Israel cuts contact with UN rights council

Israel was on Tuesday lodging protests with several European countries who voted in favour of a UN Human Rights Council resolution ordering an investigation of Jewish settlement activity.

Israel has already summoned Belgium and Austria's ambassadors to the foreign ministry to discuss last week's decision by the Human Rights Council which authorised a probe into the impact of settlements on Palestinian rights, an Israeli official told AFP.

"We will also be protesting to Norway and Switzerland," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Most of the other countries who voted for this probe are part of the automatic Muslim majority that is systematically anti-Israel," he said.

Israel has sharply criticised the council for authorising the inquiry, and on Monday the foreign ministry said it would cut contact with the body to protest the decision.

"There was a decision by the foreign ministry to sever work contacts with the organisation," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP on Monday.

"There won't be working relations with them, conversations, passing papers, making visits, exchanging information, consulting one another, attending meetings," he added.

But US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro defended the Jewish state's response to the council's resolution.

"I understand Israel's feelings about the commission," he told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

"It's a body that has constantly been obsessed with Israel and has unfairly focused on Israel to the exclusion of major other human rights issues that really cry out for attention. That's something most hypocritical."

The resolution authorising the probe was adopted by the 47-member council by 36 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. Only the United States voted against it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the council as "hypocritical" in response, saying the body "should be ashamed of itself."

Israel is not a member of the Human Rights Council, but as a UN member it has the right to observe discussions and can contribute under certain conditions, though it cannot vote or present resolutions.

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