Israel weighs UN rights council boycott

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JERUSALEM: Israel should boycott the United Nations Human Rights Council after it voted to authorize a probe of Israeli settlements, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told public radio on Sunday.

“This hypocritical organization has nothing to do with human rights. Its bias and lack of objectivity are obvious and we have no reason to cooperate with it,” he told the radio station from Singapore, where he is currently on a trip.

On Thursday, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution ordering the first investigation into how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of the Palestinians.

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

The decision was condemned by Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slamming the council as “hypocritical” and saying the body “should be ashamed of itself.”

“We will not be actors in this theatre of the absurd, where 70 percent of the council’s decisions are hostile to Israel,” Lieberman added on Sunday.

“We are considering asking free countries like the United States to withdraw from this organization.”

Lieberman’s deputy, Danny Ayalon, reiterated that position in his own comments to public radio.

“We have no reason to continue cooperating with a hypocritical organization which specializes in double-speak and has a mission to smear us,” he said.

Ayalon accused the council of getting involved in political issues “which are not within its jurisdiction,” and said Israel should deny members of the council’s settlements probe access to Israel.

“We know in advance what their conclusions will be,” he added.

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.

Ayalon also warned the Palestinian Authority that it could not expect “cooperation” with Israel “while it is fighting it in international forums.”

Local media reported on Sunday that Israel’s government was weighing various punitive measures against the Palestinians in response to the probe authorization, including suspending tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

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