U.S. not speaking at U.N. rights debate on Israel, Palestinians

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media from the Colonnade outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States will not take the floor at the main U.N. human rights forum on Monday during the annual debate on violations committed in the Palestinian territories, as part of a previous agreement not to speak. The European Union, however, reiterated "the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial efforts towards peace". "The U.S. delegation will not be speaking about Palestine today," a U.S. spokesman in Geneva told Reuters in response to a query as the debate began. The last time that Washington spoke under that stand-alone agenda item was in March 2013, U.N. records show. 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) (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)