Deputy FM Meets with U.N. Human Rights Official

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Dr. Navanethem Pillay in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Pillay arrived in Israel on Sunday to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials to better understand the complexities of peace negotiations.

During their meeting, Ayalon criticized the Human Rights Council's handling of the Goldstone Report, which denounced the Israel Defense Forces' incursion into the Gaza Strip during the winter of 2009 - 2010. 

The IDF launched Operation Cast Lead to halt years of incessant Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on southern Israeli communities.

"The obsessive occupation with the Goldstone Report, as well as the use of the committee for political hounding of Israel, have created an atmosphere of hostility and lack of trust that have caused the Palestinians to fortify themselves in their positions and prevents them from returning to the negotiating table," Ayalon said.

"The Goldstone Report describes the firing of rockets from Gaza as a 'war crime.' Well today six such war crimes took place and no response or denouncement was voiced by the U.N.," Ayalon said.

"Seeing this double standard, we, as Israelis, find it difficult to take the Human Rights Council seriously," he said.

"The Human Rights Council, as it operates today, damages the right to self-defense of democracies that deal with terrorism and asymmetrical warfare and actually encourages terrorism," he said. "The U.N. Human Rights Council is sabotaging chances of renewing the political process," Ayalon said.

Ayalon also told U.N. high commissioner that her planned visit to Tehran would be interpreted as legitimization of a regime that maliciously abuses human rights, executes its citizens and openly calls for genocide.

The deputy foreign minister said the U.N. has not used its clout to facilitate the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in June 2006 in a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost.

"It seems that the U.N. is not doing all in its power to bring about the release of Gilad Shalit," Ayalon said.

"I call for the mobilization of all possible means to bring him home, as well as to work toward the immediate improvement of his conditions, as these are a blatant and basic infringement of all relevant human rights conventions," he said, adding that she should insist on permission to meet with Shalit.


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