Israel cuts contact with UN rights body

Israel has cut working relations with the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Monday.

This content was published on March 26, 2012 - 16:02 and agencies

It added Israel would also bar a UN team from entering Israel or the West Bank for a planned investigation of Jewish settlements.

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.

The Palestinians are preparing settlement maps and photos to present to the council, said senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath. He said Israel would 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 land as a major impediment to peace-making, 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 Middle East war. Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it still controls access by air, sea and land.

The UN Human Rights Council was created in 2006. Last year, it created a special investigator for Iran, held emergency meetings on Libya and Syria, and dispatched teams of expert to probe abuses in those countries.

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