• Switzerland's news in English

Israeli skips rights council session on Palestine

Nina Larson/AFP · 23 Mar 2015, 19:41

Published: 23 Mar 2015 19:41 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Israel provided no immediate explanation for not being present at the session dedicated overwhelmingly to discussion of its policies and alleged abuses, but a source close to the council said its absence clearly amounted to a boycott.
"We won't comment on that," a spokeswoman with the Israeli mission in Geneva told AFP.
The United States was also not present, sparking speculation that its absence could be a sign of the cooling relations between the two allies since it was not there to defend Israel.
But the United States denied that, saying it was US policy not to participate in council debates on a specific agenda item on Israel, which Washington maintains unfairly singles out the Jewish state.
"We remain deeply troubled by this council's stand-alone agenda item directed against Israel, and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item," the US ambassador to the council, Keith Harper, said
in a statement.
Monday's session had originally been scheduled to discuss a probe on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the investigators obtained a delay after the head of the team quit under Israeli pressure.
"The process cannot be rushed," former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, who has taken over as head of the team, told the council.
Canadian international law expert William Schabas resigned as chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict last month after Israel complained he could not be impartial because he had prepared a legal opinion
for the Palestine Liberation Organization in October 2012.
Schabas strongly denied that he was beholden to the PLO but said he was reluctantly stepping down to avoid the inquiry into the July-August conflict — commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council — being compromised in any

 Gaza in 'stranglehold'

Story continues below…

Israel was not satisfied, calling for the entire inquiry to be shelved, insisting the commission and the Human Rights Council which created it are inherently biased against the Jewish state.
It is the only country in the world with a special agenda item — known as Item 7 — dedicated to it, meaning its rights record is discussed at every session of the UN's top rights body.
Its absence Monday did not mark the first time it has boycotted the council.
It cut all ties with the council in March 2012 over its plans to probe how Jewish settlements were harming Palestinian rights, and did not resume relations until late 2013.
Monday's session came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party scored an unexpected election victory last week.
Washington has warned it could withdraw its unwavering support for Israel at the UN over Netanyahu's tough stance on the Palestinians.
But the US denied that its absence Monday was a sign that that was coming to fruition, insisting it did not want to lend Item 7 legitimacy.
A number of states criticized the absence of the United States and most western nations from Monday's debate.
This is "a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of the Human Rights Council," said Pakistan's representative, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Although the report on the 2014 Gaza war investigation was delayed until June, the UN's new Special Rapporteur on the situation in the Palestinian territories did not hold back.
"The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel's adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack," Makarim Wibisono told the council.
He lamented "acute" needs in Gaza, warning that Israel's continued "blockade keeps Gaza in a stranglehold which does not even allow people to help themselves."
The Gaza conflict ended with a truce between Israel and the territory's Islamist de facto rulers Hamas on August 26th after the deaths of more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available