Germany warns Israel to face U.N. rights panel: report

AFP-JIJI

Germany has warned Israel to attend a periodic U.N. human rights review on Tuesday or face “severe diplomatic damage,” Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.

Israel cut all ties with the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2012, after it announced it would probe how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of Palestinians.

“On Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle sent a personal letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that Israel’s failure to attend the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review would cause the country severe diplomatic damage and Israel’s allies around the world would be hard-pressed to help it,” Haaretz wrote.

“Westerwelle’s letter to Netanyahu was delivered to Emmanuel Nahshon, deputy chief of the Israeli embassy in Berlin, with the instruction that the prime minister receive it as soon as possible,” the daily added, without naming its source.

Netanyahu’s office had no comment when questioned by AFP.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a decision on whether to attend Tuesday’s Geneva meeting was likely to be taken later Sunday.

On January 29, Israel became the first country to boycott a council review of its human rights record.

But in June it said it would like to re-engage with the body, which has 47 state members.

The Jewish state has come under widespread criticism for ramping up its construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Israel has long accused the Human Rights Council of singling it out, noting that it is the only country to have a specific agenda item dedicated to it at every meeting of the council, and that the body has passed an inordinate number of resolutions against it.