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HRW Praises Israeli Decision to Attend UN Rights Review

Human Rights Watch praises Israeli submission to UN Human Rights Council review, but calls for further concessions.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 10/28/2013, 8:08 PM

Illustration: UNHRC mission
Illustration: UNHRC mission
Flash 90

Human Rights Watch on Monday praised the Israeli decision to attendUN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Periodic Review, set for Tuesday, while at the same time urging Israel to make more concessions to UN involvement in local affairs.

The leader of New York-based Human Rights Watch, Bill Van Esveld, said "Israel's decision to end its misguided boycott of the UN Human Rights
Council is a positive step."  

Van Esveld, however, tempered his praise by calling on Israel to make further concessions to the UNHRC, saying: "Israel should now reverse its wrongful position that its human rights obligations don't apply to the occupied Palestinian territory, start working with the UN's human rights team on the ground, and stop blocking visits from UN rights experts."

Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March 2012 after the organization stated its intention to investigate how Israeli settlements may be infringing on local Arabs' rights. Israel accuses the UNHRC of singling it out at each of its three annual meetings and passing resolutions against it.

"We simply demand to be treated equally like other countries," a top official told AFP at the time.

Israel's decision to renew cooperation with the UNHRC came on the heels of international pressure. According to a Haaretz newspaper report Sunday, Germany's foreign minister Guido Westerwelle warned Israel to face the Periodic Review or face severe diplomatic consequences.

Israel has requested an upgraded status in the UN's informal regional bloc of Western Europe and Otheres Group (WEOG).  While it is part of that bloc for UN institutions in New York, it is not recognized as part of the group by institutions based in Geneva, such as UNHRC.

The Periodic Review of Israel slated for Tuesday was scheduled in June when Israel showed willingness to engage with the UNHRC again.