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US Urges Israel to Partake in UN Human Rights Review

US urges Israel to partake in UN review of human rights situation despite state’s decision to cut ties with council due to blatant bias.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 1/25/2013, 2:13 AM

Arabs throw rocks (archive)
Arabs throw rocks (archive)
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The Unites States has declared that Israel should take part in a United Nations review of its human rights situation despite the Jewish state’s decision to cut ties with the council that carries out the process.

"We have encouraged the Israelis to come to the council and to tell their story and to present their own narrative of their own human rights situation," said Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the United Nations' Human Rights Council in Geneva, AFP reported.

Israel cut all ties with the biased 47-member state council last March after it announced that it would probe how Israeli communities beyond the green line may be infringing on the rights of the Arab population.

While Israel is not a member of the council, like all 193 UN member countries, it is required to undergo Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of its human rights situation.

Israel is scheduled for a UPR next Tuesday, but has given no indication it will take part in the process, as the council has been historically and consistently biased, blatantly one-sided and against the interests of the Jewish state.

If Israel is not represented at the review, it will mark the first time since the reviews began in 2007 that the country under evaluation is absent, and it remains unclear how the rights council will react.

"The United States is absolutely, fully behind the Universal Periodic Review and we do not want to see the mechanism in any way harmed," Donahoe said, responding to questions at a conference at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

She said the council and its president, Remigiusz Henczel of Poland, had been working tirelessly to determine if the review should go ahead even if Israel doesn't participate, as well as what kind of sanctions might be appropriate.

"Our very strong hope is that the outcome protects the two overriding values of universality ... and the cooperative, collaborative nature of the process," Donahoe said, according to AFP.

She would not provide details on what options were being discussed, but stated, "I'm fairly optimistic that we will find a solution that does not undercut" these values.

The United States, which joined the UN rights council in 2009, has long criticized the body for undermining Israel-- the only country to have a specific council agenda item dedicated to it.

"We see (this) as a structural bias against Israel," Donahoe said, stressing that the U.S. was still working to have the agenda item changed.

However, "UPR is different... (It) is a tool that treats all countries equally and is universally applicable," she said, maintaining that it would be in Israel's interest to take part in the review.