Israel’s prime minister has rejected a vote by a U.N. body to send a team to investigate Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Benjamin Netanyahu issued his statement Thursday after the U.N. Human Rights Council voted for the inquiry.
“This is a hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This council ought to be ashamed of itself. Until today, the council has made 91 decisions, 39 of which dealt with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran,” he said.
On Thursday the council approved four other resolutions critical of Israel.Some 300,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, an area Palestinians claim as part of a state. Israel says the issue must be resolved in peace talks.
The United Nations launched an international investigation last Thursday into Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, with the United States isolated in voting against the initiative brought by the Palestinian Authority.
The UN Human Rights Council condemned Israel’s planned construction of new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.
The 47-member forum adopted the resolution to launch a probe by a vote of 36 states in favour, including China and Russia, with one against (the United States). Ten abstained, including European Union members Italy and Spain.
The text was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and cosponsored by states including Cuba and Venezuela.
“In violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, Israel is continuing construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem,” Pakistan’s ambassador, Zamir Akram, told the talks.
The three investigators are to be named at a later date.
About 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians seek the territory for an independent state along with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Palestinians say settlements, considered illegal by the International Court of Justice, the highest UN legal body for disputes, would deny them a viable state.
Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the West Bank and says the status of settlements should be decided in peace negotiations.
“This is a council that should be ashamed of itself. The UN Human Rights Council has no connection to human rights,” Netanyahu said.
“It was enough to hear the Syrian delegate today talking about human rights to understand how far the council is detached from reality.”
In Geneva, Israel’s Ambassador, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, denounced “the level of hypocrisy and double standards” in the council which adopted other resolutions on Thursday on Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the right of Palestinians to selfdetermination.
“The resolutions are unjustified and counterproductive. They will add tension and bitterness to an already explosive situation. This council, by its own doing, is adding fuel to a fire which is our duty to try and extinguish,” Leshno-Yaar said.
The United States said it continued to be “deeply troubled by this council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by the creation of another one-sided United Nations mechanism related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
It was inappropriate to prejudge final status issues that could only be resolved through bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine, U.S. political counsellor Charles O. Blaha told the Council.