By Barak Ravid, Haaretz – 26 March 2012
Israel’s Foreign Ministry orders envoy to Geneva to ignore all phone calls from rights council commissioner; ‘The council sparked this process’, says a senior Israeli official.
Israel decided Monday to sever all contact with the United Nations human rights council and with its chief commissioner Navi Pillay, after the international body decided to establish an international investigative committee on the West Bank settlements.
The Foreign Ministry ordered Israel’s ambassador to Geneva to cut off contact immediately, instructing him to ignore phone calls from the commissioner, a senior Israeli official said.
Israel will also bar a fact-finding team dispatched by the council from entering Israel and the West Bank to investigate settlement construction.
“We will not permit members of the human rights council to visit Israel and our ambassador has been instructed to not even answer phone calls,” said the official. “The secretariat of the human rights council and Nabi Pilawai sparked this process by establishing an international investigative committee on settlements, and we will thus not work with them anymore and will not appear before the council,” said the official.
Israeli Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) criticized the move, saying that it amounted to a “boycott of the UN,” and asked what “Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu have in common with human rights.”
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) also condemned the decision, saying that Israel “prefers settlements over human rights and contact with the international community.” Khenin called the move “dangerous,” saying that “through disconnecting from the world, the government is only isolating itself.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday that the move by the UN body proves that the Palestinians do not want to renew negotiations with Israel. “We are dealing with Al-Qaida terror on the one hand and diplomatic terror by Abu Mazen on the other,” Lieberman said, referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau and the Foreign Ministry said then that Israel would not cooperate with the UN committee. The Prime Minister’s Bureau decided Friday that the committee’s members – who are yet to be determined – would not be allowed into Israel.
Israel is also considering sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in response to the human rights council decision.