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Israel agrees to attend UN Human Rights Council review

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [BBC profile] announced Sunday that Israel will participate in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] review [review docket] of its human rights record, ending an 18-month boycott. All members of the UN are expected to undergo this review every four years to assess the state's human rights situation. Israel, which has repeatedly claimed that the council exhibits an anti-Israel bias, would have been the first nation to boycott a review. It is believed that countries such as Australia, Canada, the US, Spain, France and Germany have pressured Israel into its recent decision by urging the nation to set a positive precedent for the review process, particularly for countries such as Syria and North Korea. The review is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

Sunday's announcement marks another chapter in Israel's tumultuous relationship with the UNHRC. The UNHRC originally planned the review of the country in January, but were forced to postpone [JURIST report] because the Israeli government failed to send a representative. Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman cut ties [JURIST report] with the UNHCR in March 2012, after the council commenced an international investigation [press release] into Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2010, before the boycott, the Israeli ambassador called for an end [JURIST report] to the UNHRC investigation into Israeli actions during the 2008-2009 Gaza campaign [JURIST news archive], Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians. Despite this, the UNHRC in September of 2010 adopted a report [JURIST reports] criticizing Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla [JURIST news archive] and finding the country committed various violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

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