Israel slams UN rights chief over West Bank annexation remark

Israel on Monday condemned the United Nations top human rights official Michelle Bachelet as “biased” after she urged Israel to halt its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet “decided today to join the Palestinian campaign” and took a stand against the annexation plan even before the government has decided to go ahead a final decision which was made on the matter.

“For a long time, Israel has lost confidence in the commissioner’s ability to promote human rights in our region in a fair way,” the statement read.

Earlier on Monday, Bachelet urged Israel to halt its “illegal” plans to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, a land comprises some 30 percent of the West Bank.

“I am deeply concerned that even the most minimalist form of annexation would lead to increased violence and loss of life, as walls are erected, security forces deployed and the two populations brought into closer proximity,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Netanyahu set July 1 as the target date for the beginning of official discussions on the issue but it was not immediately clear whether U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu’s ally, will support the move.

Israel has a long history of clashing with the UN over human rights of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and where the Palestinians wish to build their future state.

In February, Israel announced it was “severing ties” with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing a “biased approach.”