Israel has reacted furiously to the UN Human Rights Council’s vote to send a team to probe Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. The council has urged Tel Aviv to reverse its policy in the region.
On Thursday, the 47-member council adopted a resolution condemning Israel’s announcements of new settlement homes and ordering an investigation into the effects of the Israeli settlements on the human rights of Palestinians. It was passed with 36 votes in favor, 10 abstentions and only one – the US – against.
“This resolution seeks to respond to the humanitarian and human rights challenges this illegal Israeli practice has created in the occupied territories,” said the Pakistani envoy presenting it.
The UN Human Rights Council resolution calls on Israel to “take and implement serious measures” such as confiscating arms to prevent acts of violence by Israeli settlers. The council, which met in Geneva, also passed four other resolutions critical of Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the resolution and responded by saying “This council ought to be ashamed of itself,” the Jerusalem Post reports.
“This is a hypocritical council with an automatic majority against Israel,” he said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the resolution “yet another surrealistic decision” and accused the council of promoting a one-sided political agenda.
The United States, which was the only nation to vote against the resolution, said it was “deeply troubled by this council’s bias against Israel.” A US envoy quoted by AFP stated “Steps like this do nothing to promote a just and lasting peace,” adding that they only serve to “push parties apart.”
In late February, Israel approved a plan to construct 500 new homes in a settler outpost in the northern part of the West Bank. The international community criticized the move saying the action is illegal. The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, said the Israeli settlement activity is deeply linked to tensions in the region.
More than 310,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and some 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.