Israel trying to thwart UN fact-finding mission on settlements

March 19th, 2012 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem, March 19 (IANS) Israel is taking steps to prevent a Palestinian initiative at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish a fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements.

According to the initiative, slated for discussion Monday, a UN fact-finding team will be formed with the goal of examining the impacts of the Jewish settlements and construction in east Jerusalem on the Palestinian residents.

“This is an improper Palestinian attempt to escape from the uppermost need for peace negotiations,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Xinhua Monday.

“Instead of doing what needs to be done according to the international community’s decisions, they (the Palestinians) are putting their efforts in confronting and struggling with Israel in diplomatic and political fronts,” he added.

“We hope that this battle of propaganda will be rejected by all the states, like Israel, that desire to bring the conflict into an ending in peaceful methods to the benefit of the two peoples,” he said.

The Israeli foreign ministry has instructed Israeli ambassadors in UNHRC member countries to work with the local authorities in order to convince the Palestinians to withdraw their request.

“Israel views with severity a decision that demands the establishment of a fact-finding committee against it,” the foreign ministry said in a telegram sent to the ambassadors, adding that such a committee will be an obstacle to any possibility of renewing direct talks with the Palestinians, the Ma’ariv daily reported.

A diplomatic source told Xinhua Monday that the general assumption in the Israeli foreign ministry is that the Palestinians will have an automatic majority if the UN body decides to bring the initiative to a vote.

“Based on our former experience, they can pass any resolution they want in this organization. Even if all the European representatives will vote against it — which they won’t — the Palestinians still have a majority among the developing countries, ” the source said.

Israeli Knesset (parliament) opposition Labor party member Yitzhak Herzoz also slammed the Palestinian initiative.

“I think that the Palestinians are making a terrible mistake when engaging in unilateral acts,” Herzog told Xinhua Monday.

“This move clearly subverts the world view that promotes conflict resolutions through negotiations, and this is why it should be rejected,” he said.

The UNHRC will discuss a series of resolutions on Israel and the Palestinians during its 19th session.

One of the resolutions calls on the council “to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to be appointed by the president of the council, to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It also calls on Israel to cooperate with the mission.

According to the Ma’an News Agency, senior Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar is scheduled to address the UNHRC Monday as part of the council’s debate on Israel.

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