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U.N. human rights body singles out Israel

The recently established U.N. Human Rights Council agreed on a set of procedures that single out Israel for special scrutiny.Jewish groups decried the agreement, reached late Monday in Geneva, to consider Israel as a separate agenda item – the only country in the world to merit such special scrutiny – and to extend the mandate of the special rapporteur on the human rights of the Palestinians “until the end of the occupation,” the only such open-ended mandate. “No words can adequately describe how disappointing has been the performance of the U.N. Human Rights Council since its inception more than a year ago,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Comittee. “Among other things, the hope that this reformed body would reverse its predecessor’s shameful record of dividing the world into two, Israel and the rest of the U.N. members, has been destroyed with today’s action in Geneva.” Only Canada voted against the measure, which was endorsed by 46 countries. The agreement also ends the mandate of the special rapporteurs on Cuba and Belarus. Other special rapporteurs, with the exception of the one on Israel, will be subject to periodic review. “The United States is disappointed by the Human Rights Council’s first year,” a U.S. State Department statement said. “The Council focused almost exclusively on a single country – Israel – failing to address serious human rights violations in other countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Belarus, and Cuba.”Established last year by the U.N. General Assembly, the Human Rights Council was supposed to represent a new beginning for the world body’s human rights arm, which had been discredited in part for its singular focus on Israel. Reformers had hoped the new council would take a broader and more balanced approach to human rights records across the globe.”Today is a terrible day for human rights. It’s a terrible day for the United Nations,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch. “The council has destroyed its credibility on its very first day.”