The Obama administration refused on Monday to participate in a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Israeli settlements and slammed the body for its “disproportionate” focus on Israel.
The council, based in Geneva, debated on Monday a January special report on the settlements that called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank and suggested that Israel may be liable for war crimes if it does not.
U.S. delegates would not speak during the debate, according to DPA, the German news agency, and in separate comments Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the body, said that “the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.”
Israel no longer associates with the Human Rights Council, in part because of last year’s so-called fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements that culminated in the report. Israel did not cooperate with the council on the settlements report because of the anticipated built-in anti-Israel bias.
The council repeatedly singles out Israel for criticism and has ignored major human rights abusers, some of which are members of the council.
The Obama administration reversed its predecessor’s policy of not participating in the council, and has noted some progress in getting it to address abuses in countries like Iran.
B’nai B’rith International’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Klaus Netter, said in a statement to the council that the report was counterproductive.
“Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the fact-finding mission report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this council’s attention for months or years to come,” he said.