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Israel Boycotts U.N. Human Rights Review

January 30, 2013 By:
JTA
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Palestinians fill plastic bottles and jerry cans with drinking water Jan. 23 from a public tap at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah.

Israel boycotted a United Nations review of its human rights practices, becoming the first country to do so.

Israel did not send representatives to its review session on Tuesday at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The council was conducting its Universal Periodic Review process in which the 193 U.N. member states have their human rights record reviewed every four years.

In March, Israel stopped cooperating with the council after it set up a committee to investigate Israeli settlements and their effect on Palestinian human rights. Israel last took part in a human rights review in 2008. Israel is not a member of the council, which is comprised of 47 U.N. member states.

The reviews first began in 2007. Israel's absence on Tuesday was the first time that a country under evaluation did not show up without an explanation. Haiti is the only other country to delay its review, in 2010 following a devastating earthquake.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council decided to postpone its review until no later than November. The statement said it "regretted" Israel's decision to boycott the session.

The Human Rights Council has been accused of singling out Israel, passing more resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined and by having an agenda item dedicated to it at every council meeting.

Eight Israeli human rights organizations said in a statement that with the council's decision to postpone the session on Israel's human rights review, "Israel now has a golden opportunity to reverse its decision not to participate." 

The statement also said, "It is legitimate for Israel to express criticism of the work of the Council and its recommendations, but Israel should do so through engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, as it has done in previous sessions."
 

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