Israel expected to boycott U.N. rights scrutiny session
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - Israel is expected to boycott a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council next week despite the United States urging its ally to show up for an examination of its record, the U.S. ambassador said on Thursday.
The Jewish state is scheduled to be in the dock of the Geneva rights forum on Tuesday, January 29 as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, the council's regular scrutiny of all United Nations member states.
"They (Israeli officials) signaled that they want it postponed. It is very unlikely they will participate on the 29th," Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. human rights ambassador, told reporters in Geneva.
If the review goes ahead, Israel would likely face criticism for its practices in the Palestinian territories, including treatment of detainees, settlement expansion and its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip which Palestinians say is collective punishment of the enclave's 1.6 million residents.
Arab states would be expected to denounce Israel's deadly air strikes on Hamas-ruled Gaza last November, launched with the declared aim of ending rocket barrages.
Israel's last review was in December 2008, when it attended. A boycott would be unprecedented and diplomats fear other countries might follow suit to avoid scrutiny of their own human rights records.
Israel suspended relations with the council last May because of what it called an inherent bias against it, and has informally told the council's president that it wants the session postponed, a U.N. spokesman said.
"A decision will be taken in the event Israel does not show up for its UPR, the council will decide on a course of action. States are working very hard behind the scenes to come up with a solution," council spokesman Rolando Gomez told Reuters. Continued...