Israel summons envoys over settlement probe

Two EU ambassadors called to foreign ministry over their support for UN inquiry into impact of West Bank settlements.

    UN Human Rights Council has set up an investigation into the impact of settlements on Palestinian rights [Reuters]

    Israel has been lodging protests with several European countries who voted in favour of a UN Human Rights Council resolution ordering an investigation into Jewish settlement activity.

    Israel has already summoned ambassadors from Belgium and Austria to its foreign ministry to discuss last week's decision by the Human Rights Council which authorised a probe into the impact of settlements on Palestinian rights, an Israeli official told the AFP news agency.

    "We will also be protesting to Norway and Switzerland," the official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "Most of the other countries who voted for this probe are part of the automatic Muslim majority that is systematically anti-Israel," he said.

    Israel has sharply criticised the council for authorising the inquiry, and on Monday the foreign ministry said it would cut contact with the body to protest the decision.

    "There was a decision by the foreign ministry to sever work contacts with the organisation," Yigal Palmor, ministry spokesman, told the AFP news agency on Monday.

    "There won't be working relations with them, conversations, passing papers, making visits, exchanging information, consulting one another, attending meetings," he added.

    'Attention' cry

    Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, defended the Israeli response to the council's resolution.

    "I understand Israel's feelings about the commission," he told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

    "It's a body that has constantly been obsessed with Israel and has unfairly focused on Israel to the exclusion of major other human rights issues that really cry out for attention."

    The resolution authorising the probe was adopted by the 47-member council by 36 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. Only the US voted against it.

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the council as "hypocritical" in response, saying the body "should be ashamed of itself".

    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, although it cannot vote or present resolutions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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