Israel ends boycott of UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council European at the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (Photo: US Mission Geneva)

The UN Human Rights Council European at the headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva (Photo: US Mission Geneva)

An Israeli delegation attended the main United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, marking an end to the country’s 18-month boycott.

Israel cut its ties with the UN body in March 2012, after it launched an investigation into Israel’s West Bank settlements.

But following international pressure from governments including the United States, Germany and France, Israel renewed its co-operation by appearing at the council’s periodical human rights review this week.

This hearing allows the UNHRC to closely examine human rights issues in each of its member states every four years.

Israel’s ambassador in Geneva, Eviatar Manor, led the delegation. In an opening statement, he said: “It was not an easy decision to make. But Israel’s unfair treatment must come to an end.

“I hope our appearance here today will go a long way to restore equality and fairness regarding Israel in Geneva, and I am confident our continued engagement will eventually allow our return to full activity within the council.”

Mr Manor told the council that today’s release of 26 Palestinian prisoners should serve to build confidence in Israel.

The convicted criminals, who all spent between 19 and 28 years in prison, were released early this morning as part of a deal in the ongoing peace talks. The decision has been met with widespread protest in Israel.

This morning, demonstrators stood outside the West Bank prison, holding signs that read: “Death to Murderers”.

Last updated: 9:59am, October 30 2013