The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Laura Dupuy Lasserre responded Monday to media reports of Israel’s intention to cuts all contacts with the council, saying that if confirmed, it would be “most regrettable.”
A senior diplomatic official earlier said that the Foreign Ministry had decided to cut off all contacts with the council. Lasseere, however, said that she had not received official confirmation of Israel’s decision, which comes on the heels of the UNHRC vote to send a fact-finding mission to the West Bank to probe the impact of the settlements of Palestinian human rights.
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“The Human Rights Council has always valued Israel’s participation, which has included its very constructive role in its Universal Periodic Review,” she added. “Moreover, Israel has on many occasions contributed to the work of the Council, including debates on certain countries in the region, such as Syria, and Libya.”
“I have no doubt that it is in the interest of Israel to cooperate with the Human Rights Council on this investigative mission, not least so that it can explain its own policies and actions to the independent commissioners once they are appointed,” she said.
Asked by Reuters to comment further, she said recent history showed Israel would not stop the fact-finding mission from gathering information by deciding not to cooperate with it, even if it could not physically gain access to the West Bank or Israel.
“The most recent example of refusal to cooperate is Syria, which did not permit either the Human Rights Council mandated Fact-finding Mission or the Commission of Inquiry to enter the country.
“On the other hand, in the case of the other two Commissions of Inquiry that took place in 2011, both Libya and Cote d’Ivoire did cooperate, and allowed the Commissioners to visit.”
As in the Syrian mission, the investigation would have to resort to other sources of information if denied access.
“Unfortunately, the image of Israel would be damaged in a moment of high expectations in the peace negotiations,” she said. “I can’t emphasize strongly enough that it is my hope and wish we won’t come to that path.”
The council condemned Israel’s planned construction of new housing units for settlers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report