Israel summons ambassadors of Belgium and Austria over vote at UN Human Rights Council
Israel has summoned the ambassadors of Belgium and Austria to the foreign ministry to reprimand them for being the only two European Union members to support the establishment of a "fact-finding mission to probe the effects of settlements on Palestinian human rights."
The ambassadors met separately with the ministry’s Deputy Director General for Europe Rafi Shotz, where they were presented with an official governmental complaint over their countries’ respective votes in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
During the conversation, Shotz expressed "our deep disappointment and objection over their vote."
The other EU member states in the Council – Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania – abstained, explaining that there are already mechanisms in place for overseeing such issues, and the establishment of another investigative body would be redundant.
"When you voted, you knew the outcome, as well of how one-sided the decision would be," Shotz told the ambassadors. "You assisted in the politicization of the Human Rights Council and a decision that will only worsen the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians."
In addition to Austria and Belgium, other non-EU European countries which voted in favor of the resolution were Norway, Switzerland, and Russia.
Israel’s ambassadors in Oslo and Bern were srainstructed to pass along as similar complaint to the Norwegian and Swiss foreign ministries.
Only the US voted against the fact-finding mission.
The summoning of the ambassadors in Jerusalem came after Israel announced its decision to sever ties with the UN Human Rights Council, as well as with its chief commissioner Navi Pillay.
"We are not working with them any more. We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over," Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declared.
Rotating President of the Human Rights Council Laura Dupuy Lasserre, who also serves as Uruguay’s ambassador to the UN, called the decision "very unfortunate."
"I have no doubt that it is in Israel’s interest to cooperate with council’s investigative committee so that it can express its position," Dupuy Lasserre said.
According to EUObserver, the EU's mild rebuke of Israel over its boycott of the UN Human Rights Council masks the fact that several member states sympathize with Israel's view.
"The EU regrets Israel's announced disengagement from the Human Rights Council. This UN body should be able to address all human rights issues and situations. It is a place open for debate, where it is important to have all voices present," EU foreign policy chief's spokesman Michael Mann said on Tuesday.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the UNHCR is "hypocritical" and "detached from reality" because it lets delegates from Syria and Palestinians from Hamas speak at its meetings.
And Israeli Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas of orchestrating the decision in what he called an act of "diplomatic terror."