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Friday, December 8, 2006

UN rights council criticizes Israel for ignoring recommendations

Last update - 16:31 08/12/2006

UN rights council criticizes Israel for ignoring recommendations

By The Associated Press

The UN Human Rights Council passed a seventh resolution criticizing Israel on
Friday, this time for its failure to act on earlier recommendations that it
end military operations in the Palestinian territories and allow a
fact-finding mission to the region.

The rights body, which has only condemned the Israeli government in its
seven-month existence, noted with regret its July resolution urging the
release of all arrested Palestinian ministers has yet to be carried out.

"Violations of the fundamental rights of the Palestinians continue unabated,"
said Pakistani diplomat Tehmina Janjua on behalf of the 57-nation Organization
of the Islamic Conference, which proposed the resolution. "The Palestinian
ministers, officials and civilians have not been set free."

Janjua demanded that UN human rights expert John Dugard be allowed to conduct
an "urgent" fact-finding in the region, which the council ordered at an
emergency session only one month after it was called into existence to replace
the discredited Human Rights Commission.

Criticism by the council brings no penalties beyond international attention.
Countries, however, lobby hard to avoid having their rights records

Dugard, a former anti-apartheid civil rights lawyer from South Africa, has
frequently clashed with Israel, who note that he has been mandated only with
investigating violations by the Israeli side. The United States - which along
with Israel is only an observer at the 47-nation council - also has dismissed
Dugard's reports as one-sided.

Only Canada voted against Friday's resolution. Cameroon and Japan joined the
10 European members of the council in abstaining. The rest of Africa and Asia,
along with all of Latin America, voted in favor.

Israel's ambassador to the global body in Geneva criticized the council for
ignoring a Nov. 26 cease-fire agreement that ended five months of fierce
fighting in Gaza.

"Why does this resolution fail to make any mention of the cease-fire between
Israelis and Palestinians, that persists despite the continuation of Qassam
rockets fired on Israel?" Itzhak Levanon asked the council.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the watchdog last month to deal with the
Mideast conflict in an impartial manner, and said it was time to focus
attention on "graver" crises such as Darfur.

Despite his plea, the council has passed only a watered-down resolution on the
western Sudanese region proposed by African countries, which urged all parties
to the conflict to end human rights violations.

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