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Israel to attend UN Human Rights Council

Israel cut ties with UN body when it wanted to probe how illegal settlements may be infringing Palestinian rights

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2013 02:03
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Israel faces international criticism for ramping up its construction of illegal settlements [Reuters]

Israel's foreign ministry says the country will appear this week in Geneva at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A top official told AFP after media reported that Germany had given warning of a diplomatic backlash if Israel stayed away.

"We will attend" the Universal Periodic Review held by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, the official, who declined to be named, said on Sunday.

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, said the German warning had come in the form of a personal letter from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered to the Israeli embassy in Berlin on Friday "with the instruction that the prime minister receive it as soon as possible".

Netanyahu's office declined to comment on the Haaretz report.

Israel cut all ties with the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 after the international body said it would probe how illegal Israeli settlements may be infringing the rights of Palestinians.

On January 29, Israel became the first country to boycott a council review of its human rights record.

Israel accuses the council of singling it out as part of the agenda of each of its three annual meetings, as well as passing a number of resolutions against it.

It has also demanded permanent membership on the 47-member council.

"We simply demand to be treated equally like other countries," the top official told AFP.

In June Israel expressed readiness to re-engage with the body, which later announced that a special meeting devoted to Israel would be held on October 29.

Israel has come under widespread criticism for ramping up its construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

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