(JTA) – The Obama administration refused to participate in a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on Israeli settlements and slammed the body for its "disproportionate" focus on Israel.
The Geneva-based council on Monday debated a January special report on the settlements that called for Israel to immediately withdraw from the West Bank and suggested Israel may be liable for war crimes if it does not leave.
U.S. delegates would not speak during the debate, according to DPA, the German news agency, and in separate comments Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the body, said "the United States remains extremely troubled by this council’s continued biased and disproportionate focus on Israel."
Israel no longer associates with the Human Rights Council, in part because of last year’s fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements that culminated in the report. Israel did not cooperate with the council on the settlements report.
The council repeatedly singles out Israel for criticism and has ignored major human rights abusers, some of which are members of the council.
The Obama administration reversed its predecessor’s policy of not participating in the council and has noted some progress in having the body address abuses in countries such as Iran.
B’nai B’rith International’s representative at the United Nations in Geneva, Klaus Netter, said in a statement to the council that the report was counterproductive.
"Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the fact-finding mission report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this council’s attention for months or years to come," he said.