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U.S. Presses U.N. To Delay Settlement Probe

The Obama administration is trying to delay the establishment of a panel appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

U.S. Middle East envoy David Hale met in Geneva last week with U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay and asked her not to advance the matter in the near future.

According to the text of the decision to establish the panel, it is meant “to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” However, the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner has yet to formulate a clear mandate for the panel and has not appointed a chairman or members.

Foreign Ministry officials noted that the U.S. wants to postpone the establishment of the panel to the latest possible date, hoping this will lead to the unofficial burial of the matter. However, the assessment is that it will not be possible to prevent the establishment of the panel, so the aim is therefore to delay it until at least after the U.S. presidential elections in November.

On March 30, a week after the decision by the U.N. Human Rights Council, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon traveled secretly to Washington to meet with his U.S. counterpart Bill Burns. Ayalon asked for help in thwarting the establishment of the panel and even suggested that the U.S. publicly threaten to quit the U.N. Human Rights Council if the panel is established.

The Americans did not respond to that threat, as they view membership in the U.N. Human Rights Council as a central issue in the foreign policy of the Obama administration. However, the Americans agreed to pressure the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner on the date of the establishment of the panel and the mandate that it will receive.

Following the U.N. Human Rights Council’s decision to establish the panel to investigate the settlements, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to halt cooperation with the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner and her staff and to boycott the proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council.

Read more at Haaretz.com

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