U.N. Human Rights Body Criticizes Israel
Tue Apr 15,
11:45 AM ET

By CLARE NULLIS, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA - The United Nations (news - web sites)' top human rights body
overwhelmingly condemned Israel's human rights record on Tuesday,
accusing the country of "mass killings of Palestinians" and a host of
other violations.

The United States, Israel's main ally, was alone in voting against
all four resolutions. The American delegate said the criticism was
one-sided and unfair.

The resolutions came after impassioned arguments earlier in the
commission's annual session, during which Palestinian delegate Nabil
Ramlawi claimed Israel used methods of killing and torture that "were
worse than the practices of Nazism." The comments sparked an outcry
among Jewish groups.

Israel regularly is condemned by the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights
Commission, which is chaired this year by Libyan U.N. Ambassador
Najat Al-Hajjaji. Israel is not a member.

By a 50-1 vote, the commission passed a resolution put forward by
European countries voicing "grave concern" because Israel has not
halted settlements of Palestinian territory. It criticized
restrictions on the movements of Palestinians and a barrier Israel is
building to separate it from the Palestinian territories.

Australia and Costa Rica abstained from voting.

A tougher, seven-page resolution sponsored by African and Arab
nations criticized "the gross violations of human rights and
international humanitarian law" in Israel.

It accused the country of collective punishments, arbitrary
detentions, attacks on Palestinian residential areas and "the killing
of men, women and children there."

It also condemned "acts of mass killing perpetrated by the Israeli
occupying authorities against the Palestinian people."

That resolution passed 33-5, with Canada, Australia, Germany and Peru
joining the United States in opposition. There were 15 abstentions,
mainly European nations.

U.S. delegate Michael Southwick said the resolution did not reflect
Israel's fight against Palestinian suicide bombers and terrorism
against innocent Israelis.

"Israel is not responsible for all the ills plaguing the people in
the region. Israel has the right to self-defense," Southwick said.

Canadian Ambassador Christopher Westdal said the language of the
second text was "unacceptable and often inflammatory."

A third resolution affirmed the "inalienable, permanent and
unqualified right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,
including their right to establish their sovereign and independent
Palestinian State." It passed 51-1.

A final resolution called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan
Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War and
annexed in 1981. That passed 31-1, with 21 abstentions.

Yahoo News Photo
United Nations (news - web sites) Human Rights (UNHRC) commision
chairwoman Najat Al-Hajjaji. UNHRC has condemned Israel for human
rights abuses against Palestinians, winning a majority vote in
support of the declaration.(AFP/File/Sandro Campardo)