Israel decided Monday, March 26, to sever all contact with the United Nations human rights council and with its chief commissioner Navi Pillay, after the international body decided to establish an international investigative committee on the West Bank settlements.

The Foreign Ministry ordered Israel’s ambassador to Geneva to cut off contact immediately, instructing him to ignore phone calls from the commissioner, a senior Israeli official said.  They also decided that they will not permit any officials related to this initiative into the country.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the move “diplomatic terror,” and Israel was reportedly considering sanctions against the Palestinians for supporting it.  Read more   

It is interesting that these events happened just after a report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem released a bleak report on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, stating that the largest human rights violations are precisely because of the settlements: The report states:

The picture is harsh – not because of dramatic events or a sudden deterioration, but precisely because of the routine. This year, we enter the 45th year since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What was supposed to be a temporary situation appears firmly entrenched with no change in sight.

In the West Bank, two and a half million Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation while settlers live in enclaves of Israeli law within the same territory. Individual acts of violence by extremist settlers periodically capture the headlines, and discriminatory and inadequate law enforcement is indeed a concern. However, the major human rights violations result from the settlements: their extensive exploitation of land and water, the massive military presence to protect them, the road network paved to serve them and the invasive route of the Separation Barrier, which was largely dictated by the settlements. Israeli civilians living in the West Bank are also subject to violence. This year, five members of the Fogel family were shot and stabbed to death in their home in the Itamar settlement, and a father and his infant son were killed when their car crashed after rocks were thrown by Palestinians.