JERUSALEM, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed Israel's inclusion in the U.N.'s Western European and Others Groups in Geneva, saying Israel's voice must be heard.
The U.N. body made the decision in Geneva Monday, granting Israel national rights at the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Jerusalem Post said Tuesday.
"At a time when the scourge of global anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is more important than ever for Israel to have a strong voice that can be heard everywhere," Kerry said in a statement issued shortly after the Israeli Foreign Ministry was informed of the decision.
"Israel is now a full member of [a] regional group in the Human Rights Council and that means we can play a bigger role in the human rights activities in Geneva," Aharon Leshno Yaar, deputy director of the foreign ministry for U.N. and international organizations, told the Post.
The 193 U.N. member states are divided into regional groupings in New York and Geneva through which elections are held for various U.N. organizations and bodies. Muslim countries barred Israel from participating in the Asia-Pacific group, the geographical category into which Israel falls.
In March 2012, Israel cut ties with the U.N. Human Rights Council, protesting its anti-Israel bias.