The UN Human Rights Council is as anti-Israel as its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights. It protects dictatorships while focusing disproportionate attention and outrage on Israel’s alleged human rights violations. So in 2012, when Israel announced a boycott of the Council over the one-sided inquiry into Israeli settlements, it was a move that many Israelis, and many critics of the Council, felt was long overdue.
Israel’s return to cooperation comes as the Council will review Israel’s human rights record this week. The decision is partly the result of pressure from the international community–particularly, though not exclusively, from the Obama administration. Yet it is also the result of negotiations with other Western nations that secured Israel what one official called “appropriate recompense,” according to Ha’aretz.
Israel secured two concessions in return. One was to limit “Item 7” in the Council’s framework, a one-sided mandate to investigate “[h]uman rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.” The other was that the Western European and Others Group would consider including Israel. Currently, Israel is the only UN member state excluded from a regional group.
The Obama administration views participation in the Council as an important part of its foreign policy, after the Bush administration stayed away, citing the Council’s anti-Israel (and anti-Western) bias. Though the Council’s deliberations have produced little of value for Americans–aside from a self-flagellating report on U.S. human rights abuses, including Arizona’s immigration law–Obama remains committed to the Council.