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Israel snubs UN rights review

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By SAPA

Geneva - Israel on Tuesday stayed away from a regular review of its human rights policies in Geneva, becoming the first country to boycott the UN Human Rights Council's audit process.

The snub was in line with Israel's decision last year to suspend its cooperation with the council.

Envoys agreed unanimously in a resolution to give the country until November to show up, even though the decision was seen as too soft by many developing countries.

Israel's move last year was in response to several critical resolutions on the Gaza conflict, Israeli settlers and human rights in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The council and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had “become a political tool and a convenient platform, cynically used to advance certain political aims, to bash and demonize Israel,” the country's Geneva envoy, Aharon Leshno Yaar, wrote in May.

Countries take turns to have their human rights reviewed by their peers, by UN agencies and by non-governmental organizations.

On Tuesday, the United States and other Western countries cautioned the council against taking any immediate harsh action that would further escalate the stand-off.

“We wonder whether this cooperative spirit would be extended to some other country that is not so close to the major powers of the world,” Pakistan's Ambassador Zamir Akram said.

Palestinian envoy Ibrahim Khraishi said: “Israel really needs ... to respond to its international human rights obligations,” and suggested that the UN provide legal expertise to Israel, as it was apparently unable to cope with the review process.

The Israeli government did not immediately react to Tuesday's events. - Sapa-dpa

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