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German warning triggers Israel UN meet

The Local · 28 Oct 2013, 07:59

Published: 28 Oct 2013 07:59 GMT+01:00

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Israel will now attend the Universal Periodic Review held by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, an unnamed official said on Sunday.

Haaretz newspaper earlier reported that Germany warned Israel of "severe diplomatic damage" if it failed to attend the meeting.

The newspaper said the warning had come in the form of a personal letter from German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered to the Israeli embassy in Berlin on Friday "with the instruction that the prime minister receive it as soon as possible."

Netanyahu's office declined to comment on the Haaretz report.

Israel cut all ties with the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012 after the international body said it would probe how Israeli settlements may be infringing on the rights of Palestinians.

On January 29th, Israel became the first country to boycott a council review of its human rights record.

Israel accuses the council of singling it out as part of the agenda of each of its three annual meetings, as well as passing a number of resolutions against it. It has also demanded permanent membership on the 47-member council.

"We simply demand to be treated equally like other countries," said the official.

In June, Israel expressed readiness to re-engage with the body, which later announced that a special meeting devoted to Israel would be held on October 29th.

The country has come under widespread criticism for ramping up its construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in east Jerusalem.

READ MORE: Merkel calls for Israeli settlement 'restraint'

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