GENEVA (AP) -- The U.S. and other Western countries have admitted Israel into an informal group in Geneva that will provide it with some influence before the U.N. top human rights body, officials said Monday.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Israel's entry into the Geneva-based section of the Western European and Others Group is important, because until now it has been structurally denied the opportunity that every other U.N. member has.
That opportunity, she said, is membership in one of the regional bodies that "shape policy and determine leadership posts" at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, based in Geneva.
The group and others like it act in an advisory capacity but have no formal standing with the 47-nation council, in which the U.S. is a member but Israel is not.
"For far too long Israel has been unfairly excluded from regional bodies at the United Nations," Power said in a statement. "This long-overdue decision brings Geneva in line with the decision to admit Israel into WEOG in New York in 2000, which continues to pay dividends more than a decade later."
The American Jewish Committee's executive director, David Harris, said the decision "ends the shameful anomaly whereby Israel was the only U.N. member state not fully integrated in the world body's regional grouping system."
Israel's U.N. Mission said on Twitter that "after decades of discrimination, a historical wrong has been corrected. Israel's voice will finally be heard loud & clear in WEOG in Geneva."