Israeli Foreign Ministerhas decided "to cut all ties with the U.N.'s Human Rights Council " following its decision to probe how the West Bank settlements may be infringing on Palestinians rights, a senior state official said Monday.
The Israeli government will also prevent U.N. teams from entering the country to investigate the impact of the settlements. It is also reported that the Israeli envoy to Geneva has been ordered not to cooperate with the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"We are not working with them any more," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said about the Geneva-based forum. "We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over."
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the weekly Cabinet meeting, that if the Palestinians wage diplomatic warfare on Israel, it could result in economic sanctions. Israel is considering a tough measure it has imposed in the past: withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority.
For his part, Israel's prime ministerdismissed the Geneva forum as "hypocritical" and having an "automatic majority against Israel."
However, Palestinian officialhas said that Israel will not be able to prevent the investigation from taking place. "We will go to any international body that can investigate and impose sanctions," he said.
Palestinian officials say settlements undermine a viable Palestinian state. They are considered illegal by the International Court of Justice, the highest U.N. legal body for disputes, while Israel wants their status to be decided in peace talks.
Meanwhile, Hamas slammed Israel's decision, calling it a "Zionist attempt to blackmail" international institutions that criticize its policies.
"This is proof of the vulnerability the Zionist regime is facing vis-a-vis human rights and the U.N.," Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement, Yent news reported.
The U.N. Human Rights Council condemned Israel's planned construction of new housing units for settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying they undermined the peace process and posed a threat to the two-state solution and the creation of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state.
Israel has moved 500,000 Israelis to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since capturing the areas, along with Gaza, in the 1967 "Six days war." Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it still controls access by air, sea and land, which are illegal under international law.