In November, the U.N. General Assembly recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in a vote that was largely symbolic but infuriated Israel. In December, the Palestinians accused Israel of planning more ‘‘war crimes’’ by expanding settlements.
The Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council was set up in 2006 to replace a 60-year-old commission that was widely discredited as a forum dominated by nations with poor rights records. The United States finally joined the council in 2009, and U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this month that while all countries should appear for their review ‘‘we also consistently registered our opposition to the council’s consistent anti-Israel bias.’’
Earlier this week, Israel became the first nation to skip a review of its human rights record by the council without giving a reason. Diplomats agreed to postpone their review until later this year based on Israel’s request for a deferral.
The council, which could have proceeded with the review or canceled it, said its agreement to defer would set precedent for how to deal with any future cases of ‘‘non-cooperation.’’
All 193 U.N.-member nations are required to submit to such a review every four years, and council diplomats said they worried that if a nation were let off the hook that could undermine the process.
Peter James Spielmann contributed to this report from the United Nations.