Israel to Join United Nations Human Rights Council
Israel has been accepted to join the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Maariv reported Thursday. The international body infamous for condemning the Jewish state will now add it to the list of 9 Western states.
The move is a complete about-face for the UNHRC, which in its 5-year history has condemned Israel over 46 times - more than any other nation in the world.
The UNHRC was also the body that appointed the Goldstone Commission's investigation of 'Operation Cast Lead' in the December 2008 - January 2009 Gaza War, eventually concluding that Israel had committed war crimes.
While Judge Richard Goldstone rescinded parts of his report in 2011, heavy damage had already been done to Israel's reputation following what many view as a highly politicized smear campaign.
The US and other Western powers have already publicly declared that the UNHRC is in the wrong for condemning Israel. In October, Israeli diplomats demanded that the UNHRC stop harassing Israel in light of more pressing conflicts, like a nuclear Iran and the Syrian Civil War, which have remained largely ignored by the international rights group. The demand followed an 18-month boycott of the council after it demanded that Israel unconditionally retreat to 1949 Armistice lines.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his national security advisor Yaakov Amidror have set two requirements as preconditions for the resumption of cooperation with the Council.
The first is that European Union states agree to boycott the council meetings which are held under the anti-Israel Agenda Item 7 mandate, alongside the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Agenda Item 7 states that the UNHRC must discuss Israel's alleged human rights violations each and every time the council convenes, regardless on what is occuring in other countries in the Middle East or around the world.
The EU has agreed to boycott the meetings at the next 2 UNHRC conventions. In the future, it could only participate in Agenda Item 7 discussions if there is a complete consensus over the issues at stake among every EU member state.
Maariv notes that is a near-impossibility. As such, those meetings have been effectively stripped of their Western representation - removing their efficacy as springboards for anti-Israel acitivity by Arab states.
The second condition is that Israel be accepted as part of the Western bloc in the UNHRC. Until now, Israel has not been assigned to any specific category, preventing it from taking effective action and singling it out even more. If not, Netanyahu has threatened to withdraw Israeli involvement from the UNHRC permanently.
Western member states have reportedly declared that they are making an attempt to quell differences among them and embrace Israel as a member state.
Maariv's analysts attribute the sudden change to increased tensions over nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea as well as the upcoming Syria talks in Geneva later this year.
The UNHRC has expressed concern that a permanent Israeli withdrawal will not only encourage these countries to withdraw themselves as well - taking them off the international radar - but also reduce the relevancy of the Council in general as a result.
Israel will now be able to vote on UNHRC issues, including the selection of other member states, and defend itself against the claims brought against it. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Aharon ("Roni") Leshno-Yaar will be sent to renew Israel's presence on the Council, and is expected to join by the end of 2013.