Boycott plan for UN Human Rights Council Israel review

The UNHRC (Photo: AP)

The UNHRC (Photo: AP)

A planned session of the UN Human Rights Council is likely to be boycotted by Israel as a protest against the group's perceived stance on the Jewish state.

Despite the United States urging Israel to attend the session in Geneva on Tuesday, Israel is expected to refuse. It is not a member of the UNHRC and last March broke with the organisation after it arranged to probe the impact of the West Bank settlements on the Palestinians. The mission was described at the time by Israel as "another blatant expression of the singling out of Israel in the UNHRC and of the uncandid approach that characterises the Council's dealing with Israel".

The suggestion that the UNHRC is disproportionately critical of Israel is one that is broadly shared by the Americans, who said this week that there was "a structural bias" against the country in the ranks of the UN body.

But next week's meeting is due to cover a Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Israel, a mechanism that has been in place for all countries since 2007 and one that the US believes is crucial.

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the US representative to the UNHRC, said : "It is a tool that treats all countries equally and is universally applicable.

"We have encouraged the Israelis to come to the council and to tell their story and to present their own narrative of their own human rights situation."

It is unclear what the ramifications will be if the Israelis do boycott the UPR, but it is likely that the review will go ahead even without representatives of the country present.

Last updated: 10:04am, January 25 2013