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Israel suspends ties with U.N. Human Rights Council

From Kareem Khadder, CNN
updated 4:49 PM EDT, Mon March 26, 2012
Tear gas on Friday scatters Palestinians protesting the seizure of land for a Jewish settlement near Ramallah in the West Bank.
Tear gas on Friday scatters Palestinians protesting the seizure of land for a Jewish settlement near Ramallah in the West Bank.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israel says it will not cooperate with an investigation of Jewish settlements
  • The move comes in response to a resolution to establish a fact-finding mission on settlements
  • Senior Palestinian negotiator says the measures are intended to protect Palestinian land and people
  • Netanyahu says the council "ought to be ashamed of itself"

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel has decided to suspend all working ties with the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, and will not cooperate with the council's plans for an investigation of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman told CNN Monday.

"Working relations, participating in debates and discussion and exchanging papers, sending information and requesting information, and organizing visits and so on and so on, this is all suspended," Yigal Palmor said about the decision by senior management of the Foreign Ministry.

The move came in response to a resolution by the Human Rights Council to establish a "Fact Finding Mission on the Influence of Settlements on Palestinians," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a posting on its website. It described the move as "yet another surrealistic decision from the workshop of a council that is instrumentalized as a tool to push for one-sided politicized moves instead of promoting human rights."

It accused the council of seeking "to satisfy the Palestinians' whims and to harm future chances to reach an agreement through peaceful means."

The statement said that turning to international bodies "is a breach of concluded Israeli-Palestinian agreements." It said Palestinians should resume "direct and unconditional negotiations on all core issues within the framework of a comprehensive agreement" if they want to solve the settlements issue."Their deliberate choice to foster confrontation and provocation rather than compromise and reconciliation is nothing but a destructive strategy that the international community should firmly reject."

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Palmor said the Israelis were discussing possible punitive measures against the Palestinians.

But Mohamad Shtayeh, senior Palestinian negotiator, dismissed the uproar and the threat. "We know Israel is not in a position to take any measures against the Palestinian Authority because the Palestinian Authority is taking peaceful measures to protect its land and its people and this is something very legitimate and legal under international law," he said.

In a statement communicated by the media adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister berated the council as "hypocritical" and said it "ought to be ashamed of itself."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States had "vigorously opposed the resolution" on the settlements as counterproductive.

"It's just going to distract efforts to help parties resolve the issue directly, which is what has to happen here, and it takes up time and limited resources that the council ought to be spending on other issues," she said.

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