What a travesty of the high ideals of the UN!
What a bitter disappointment for those who have had high hopes for this organization!
Last update - 14:45 24/01/2008
UN rights council slams Israel's 'grave violations' in Gaza Strip By Reuters
The United Nations Human Rights Council said Thursday it deplored the "grave violations" being committed by Israel in Gaza, and demanded that the week-long siege of the Strip be lifted.
The 47-member council adopted a resolution presented by Arab and Muslim states by a vote of 30 states in favor and one against with 15 abstentions. One delegation was absent.
Delegations from the United States and Israel, which both have observer status at the Council, boycotted the two-day session, diplomats said.
The U.S. and Israel termed the discussion one-sided, due to the fact that it completely ignored the ongoing Qassam rocket barrages fired indiscriminately by Gaza militants at Israeli civilian communities.
Most of those abstaining from the vote were Western states, including France, Germany and Britain. UN Security Council members China and Russia supported the resolution, and Canada was the lone vote against it.
It was the third time that the Geneva forum, set up in June 2006, rebuked Israel at a special emergency session called to address conditions in the Palestinian territories.
Mohammed Abu-Koash, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the talks at a special emergency session called to address conditions in the Palestinian territories, that Israel's siege and raids in Gaza constituted "war crimes".
"We hope the resolution will trigger international pressure and action to lift the Israeli siege and restore supplies of food, fuel and medicine, open border crossings and end repeated Israeli military attacks throughout the occupied Palestinian territory," he said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, in a speech on Wednesday, denounced Israel's "disproportionate use of force and targeted killings" as well as Palestinian militants' firing of rockets into Israel.
Arbour, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, told the forum that international law forbids collective punishment and said Israel should lift all restrictions on aid intended for Gaza.
"All parties concerned should put an end to the vicious spiral of violence before it becomes unstoppable," she warned.
Syria's ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, speaking on behalf of Arab states and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), accused Israel of turning Gaza into a "huge prison."
"The real aim of Israel from these aggressions and crimes is to deliberately abort all Arab and international efforts to invigorate the peace process," he charged.
Egypt's envoy Sameh Shoukry, speaking for African countries, urged Arbour's office to conduct more regular visits to the Palestinian territories and report more extensively "on all violations emanating from the Israeli occupation".
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