Israel's Minister of Tourism, Uzi Landau, has accused the UN Human Rights Council of hypocrisy over its planned investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights abuses during the Gaza conflict.

Asked how the UN investigation would hurt Israel's image around the world, Landau told IBTimes TV that it would damage people's perception of Israel and railed against the Geneva-based body that is investigating alleged abuses committed by both sides in the 50-day war.

"When you speak for example for the United Nations, you have over there just the Muslim countries. They automatically have over 56 members who can really run the show," Landau told IBTimes TV in Jerusalem.

"The council for Human Rights in Switzerland, over there you used to have founding members and leading members such as the country of Iran, Libya until it collapsed, Tunisia. Syria – you see what's happening there. You see countries like Russia and other such countries. Do you really think it's human rights that is running their show?"

Landau made the remarks days after Israel's prime minister denounced the UN Human Rights Council as a "terrorist rights council" in a fiery address to the UN General Assembly.

The UN announced in August that an independent team would investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law... in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014".

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed during the fighting in Gaza, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and seven civilians were killed.


The summer conflict has slowed Israel's economy, which is expected to grow at 2% in 2014. It would mark the slowest rate of GDP expansion in the country since 2009. Landau told IBTimes TV the country's experience with previous wars would help the economy recover in the coming months.

"Always when you have a kind of war you have some slowdown of the economy but based on all of our previous cases, it just takes a few months for us to level-up and to put things on track," he said. "In fact even now, this year, with whatever 'low' it is, it's 2%. That's a trend and compared to what's happening in Europe, we're still doing reasonably well."

The tourism sector has been badly hit by the 50-day war, which lasted for much of the summer peak season for foreign tourists visiting the country. Hotels reported dramatic drops in occupancy rates as soon as rockets began targeting Tel Aviv, while secondary businesses such as restaurants and nightclubs have also reported a downturn.

Israel's tourism sector in 2014 had been on track to enjoy a record year but the war has all but halted foreign arrivals to the country.

"Until the Gaza war, it was a tremendous uphill trend that would set a record year even compared to the two previous years which were each in itself a record year. In July and August there was a drop of between 20% and 30% in incoming tourism and I believe that this still is going to take another month, based on our experiences," Landau told IBTimes TV.

"We have operations in the Middle East once in a year and a half... it takes between four months and six or seven months until we fully recover and we hope that this will be the case."