Germany threatens ties with Israel over UN human rights review

Published October 27th, 2013 - 11:26 GMT
Israel has previously boycotted the UN Human Rights Council periodic review after it told the Jewish state that it planned to investigate illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as an infringement on Palestinians' rights (Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Israel has previously boycotted the UN Human Rights Council periodic review after it told the Jewish state that it planned to investigate illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as an infringement on Palestinians' rights (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Germany cautioned Israel Sunday that diplomatic ties could be damaged if the Jewish state failed to attend a periodic UN human rights review on Tuesday, according to AFP's sources.


Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that, "On Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sent a personal letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that Israel's failure to attend the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review would cause the country severe diplomatic damage and Israel's allies around the world would be hard-pressed to help it."


Israel has previously "cut all ties" with the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council who conducts the periodic review in March 2012. The decision to cut ties followed the council's announcement that it was planning to investigate how Israeli settlements may "infringe" on the rights of Palestinians.


Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office had no official comments for AFP at the time of the report's release.


An Israeli official told AFP, under the condition of anonymity, that Tel Aviv has not yet officially decided whether or not to attend Tuesday's periodic review in Geneva, but that a final decision would likely be made later Sunday.


Israel is the first country to boycott a council review of its human rights record. Israel has frequently accused the council of bias against the Jewish state, saying that it is the only country to have a specific agenda item dedicated to it at every council meeting.


Despite such criticism, Tel Aviv released statements in June that suggest that it may reopen relations with the council in the upcoming months.


Israel's renewed calls for "ramping up" settlement construction in the West Bank has come under widespread criticism, particularly after last week's announcement that settler houses in Hebron would be doubled within the year. Under international law, it is illegal for Israel to build settlements in the West Bank and the occupied East Jerusalem, but over 500, 000 Israeli settlers currently reside in the teorritories.


Ma'an news agency also reported that Israeli forces seized a Palestinian house near Jenin Saturday and turned it into a military base to "monitor children throwing stones at Israeli vehicles traveling" between nearby illegal Jewish settlements.


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