Initially, Reuters reported that the US decision was unprecedented, eliciting a denial from the Israeli foreign ministry. "Israel asks all its friends not to speak at the annual debate" so as not to accord the session any importance, the foreign ministry said. "The report is not true. The Americans don't participate annually in the debate."
After the initial report became big news in Europe and the Middle East, Reuters revised its story and admitted its mistake:
The decision not to talk since then was part of an agreement in October 2013 when Israel resumed participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council.
In Israel, the Foreign Ministry said that the annual debate "negatively singles out Israel and Israel every year asks its friends on the council not to express themselves".
(This story updates throughout to show move was planned and not related to current U.S.-Israel tensions, adds Israel comment, EU).
At approximately the same time, Keith Harper, the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council issued the following statement to clarify why the U.S. did not participate in the debate:
Today the United States, in support of Israel, made no statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council debate on alleged Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories, otherwise known as Item 7. Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking. The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it.
The United States’ approach to the Human Rights Council’s Item 7 has not changed.
We remain deeply troubled, by this Council’s stand-alone agenda item directed against Israel, and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item.
No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it.
As was the case last year, the United States will not engage in the debate. Neither will Israel.
Instead, we will call a vote, and vote no on Item 7 resolutions.
After which, the United States will make a statement explaining our consistent approach in opposition to Item 7.
Which makes one wonder why Reuters didn't check with the Ambassador's office before they release the first version of the story.