UN Rights Panel Condemns Israel
Geneva - The 53-member United Nations Human Rights Commission has overwhelmingly adopted three resolutions on the Middle East.
The Human Rights Commission condemned what it called Israel's disproportionate use of force in the Palestine occupied territories, its settlement policy, and occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.
The United States was virtually alone in voting against the three resolutions. Guatemala joined the United States in voting against the resolutions on the occupied territories and the Golan Heights.
The issues set off a spirited debate among the member countries. In introducing the resolution on the occupied territories, Algerian Ambassador Mohammed Salah Dembri accused Israel of putting the Palestinian people in danger of death by the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force. He said Israeli tanks should not enter the Palestinian territories and Israel should refrain from sealing off an entire people. "Once again," he said, "these are such unfortunate reminiscences of history. Gaza and other territories once again could become further concentration camps with reminiscences of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka." The U.S. ambassador, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, immediately responded to what she considered inappropriate and distasteful remarks by the Algerian Ambassador.
"The United States is deeply dismayed that in introducing the resolution, L-30, the representative of Algeria equated the situation in the territories occupied by Israel with such tragedies of world history as Auschwitz and Dachau," she said.
The U.S. ambassador called the text unbalanced and said it did nothing to improve the prospects for peace in the Middle East. The Israeli ambassador, Yaakov Levy agreed. "Were this text drafted with the aim of ending the ongoing cycle of violence, it would have included a clear and unequivocal demand for the Palestinian leadership to call upon their followers, their paramilitary militia groups, and security forces to end the violent armed attacks against Israelis that they initiated in October 2000," said Israel's ambassador.
The resolution calling for an end to Israel's expansion of settlements in the occupied territories garnered the greatest support. It was presented by the European Union and was approved by 50 votes.
UN General Assembly condemns Israel
was MIDEAST REACTION The United Nations general assembly has condemned what it describes as Israel's excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians.
The resolution also calls for the prevention of what it calls illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers.
Ninety-two countries voted in favour of the resolution; only six voted against, including the United States and Israel.
Forty-six countries abstained. Most European countries voted in favour, but Britain and Germany were among the abstentions. The BBC UN correspondent says the assembly's condemnation of Israel follows a diplomatic struggle between Arab members of the organisation and the US after Washington blocked further debate on the Middle East crisis in the UN security council. Our correspondent says the resolution has conciliatory elements: it condemns all acts of violence and supports the agreement reached at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
POLITICS-MIDEAST: UN Human Rights Commission Condemns IsraelBy Gustavo Capdevila
GENEVA, Oct 19 (IPS) - The Arab nations were able to convince the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to approve - though by a narrow margin - a resolution condemning Israel for the violent incidents of the last three weeks in the Palestinian territories.
The decision was the result of 19 votes in favour, 16 against and 17 abstentions. In general, the industrialised nations as a bloc opposed the text presented by the Arab countries, while developing nations were divided between the ''yes'' vote and abstentions.
Delegates from the Arab and Islamic countries commented that the resolution preserves the reputation of the Geneva-bsed UN Commission on Human Rights and lamented that the European Union (EU) avoided discussion of a consensus text.
The United States and the EU criticised the resolution because it only condemns the abuses attributed to the Israelis and omits violations committed by Palestinians.
The approved text calls for the creation ''on an urgent basis, of a human rights inquiry commission ... to gather and compile information on violations of human rights and acts which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying power.''
It also requests that ''the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Mary Robinson) undertake an urgent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories to take stock of the violation of human rights'' committed by Israeli forces.
Another point included in the resolution asks that UN special rapporteurs on human rights and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances conduct immediate missions to the Palestinian territories and report their conclusions to the Commission.
The declaration calls upon Israel ''to put an immediate end to any use of force against unarmed civilians,'' and upon ''the international community to take immediate effective measures to secure the cessation of violence by the Israeli occupying power.''
The declarative portion of the UN Commission's resolution contains paragraphs that sharply censure Israel, ''condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader.''
The Palestinians and other Arab nations maintain that Sharon's visit triggered the violent incidents that occurred that day, and the ongoing clashes since, which have claimed more than 110 lives, mostly Palestinians.
The UN Commission on Human Rights, made up of 53 of the UN's 189 member states, met for three days this week in special session at the request of the Arab nations and of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
The special sessions coincided with the emergency summit this week at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik, which included the participation of presidents from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, United States and the European Union, as well as UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
The Sharm el-Sheik summit achieved accords intended to halt the violence in the Palestinian territories and to renew relations between the parties caught up in the conflict.
The leaders at the summit in Egypt also agreed to establish an investigative commission, entrusted to the United States and the UN secretary-general, to determine responsibilities for the wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
At the special session in Geneva, delegates from the western nations said the resolution adopted by the Commission endangers the implementation of the accords reached at Sharm el-Sheik.
The US delegation said the adopted text does not provide a route for reconciliation between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli representatives charged that the resolution blames just one party to the conflict and fails to express regret for the Israeli victims.
A Latin American diplomat commented that the resolution is weak, but it will be carried out.
The Commission's directive panel, presided by Nepalese representative Shambhu Ram Simkhada, must now designate the members of the inquiry commission that is to travel to the Palestinian territories.
A statement from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated that implementing the resolution would cost approximately 814,000 dollars.
Of that sum, 594,000 would be earmarked for the inquiry commission's expenses, 20,000 for the travel expenses of High Commissioner Robinson and her team, 100,000 for the mission of special rapporteurs and another 100,000 for general expenses.
Voting in favour of the resolution were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cuba, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mauricio, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.
Those voting against included Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Spain and the United States.
Abstaining were Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Congo, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Russia, South Korea and Zambia.
The delegation from Liberia did not attend the vote of the UN Commission on Human Rights. (END/IPS/tra-so/pc/mj/ld/00)
U.N. Condemns Israeli Use of ForceBy Nicole Winfield
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Oct. 21, 2000; 6:40 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS The Palestinians won another U.N. admonition of Israel with a General Assembly resolution condemning the "excessive use of force" by Israelis against Palestinians civilians in three weeks of fighting.
But the non-binding resolution adopted late Friday passed with only 92 votes in favor an unusually low number for resolutions on the Middle East, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke noted after the balloting.
"It was a mistake to bring this kind of resolution to the floor in the middle of a world crisis," Holbrooke told reporters. "It was mistake to put forward a resolution that would undermine peace efforts."
Holbrooke cast one of six "no" votes, while 46 countries voted to abstain. Some 30 countries didn't cast a ballot at all.
The resolution was the third adopted by the United Nations since the violence began Sept. 28, following a similar one in the Security Council and one at the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission this week which voted to set up an inquiry into the violence.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Saturday called the General Assembly resolution "is completely one-sided," saying it ignores the mob killing of two Israeli soldiers and the desecration of Jewish holy sites in Nablus and Jericho.
The ministry said the government "will do everything in its power to calm the situation and expects that the Palestinian leadership will also act in such a manner."
The European Union successfully softened the assembly resolution to make it somewhat more balanced. The final draft, for example, includes a call on both sides to implement their pledges made at this week's summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt for a truce and a recommitment to peace.
While the draft condemns the "excessive use of force" by Israeli troops, there is also a condemnation of general acts of violence an amendment sought by the EU to moderate the text.
But only nine of the EU members signed off on the final version. Six abstained: Britain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The vote came at the conclusion of a two-day emergency session of the General Assembly during which dozens of ambassadors expressed support for this week's peace efforts but resoundingly criticized the Israeli response to Palestinian mob protests.
Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Israel to correct what he said was the root of the problem by withdrawing from territories it has occupied since 1967.
"Only then may Israel have the legitimacy it deserves and aspires to," Aboul Gheit said. "And only then will our peoples know an end to a conflict that has ripped our region apart for the last half-century."
Palestinian observer Nasser al-Kidwa thanked all those who voted in favor of the resolution. But in an acknowledgment that the tally was not as strong as it might otherwise have been, he added, "Our people and our Arab countries will watch with great concern the position adopted by some that is not in coherence with justice or international law, or even with their traditional positions."
Holbrooke said with the resolution now behind them, it was time for the Israelis and the Palestinians to try to rebuild that reconciliation that seemed even more remote as nine Palestinians were killed in new violence Friday.
"Today was a very bad day in the region," Holbrooke said. "The dangers are mounting. And its time to get on with the peace diplomacy and get away from diplomatic squabbling."
ï¿½ Copyright 2000 The Associated Press
The United States versus the World at the United Nations
America, we have all been taught for half a century, is the leader of "The Free World". If this is so, it's proper to ask: Where are the followers? Where is the evidence that Washington's world view sways the multitude of nations? To enlist support for its wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, the United States had to resort to bribery and threats. At the United Nations, the US has, with noteworthy regularity, been on the minority side in voting on resolutions. The table below shows a portion of this pattern. It covers an arbitrarily chosen 10-year period, 1978 through 1987, and is composed of the following sections:
Date/ Resolution Yes-No vote
Dec.16 36/146G 119-2(US, Israel) Establishment of University of Jerusalem for Palestinian refugees Dec. 16 36/147C 111-2 (US,Israel) Israeli violations of human rights in occupied territories Dec. 16 36/147F 114-2 (US,Israel) Condemns Israeli closing of universities in occupied territories Dec. 16 36/149B 147-2 (US,Israel) Calls for the establishment of a new and more just world information and communications order Dec. 16 36/150 139-2 (US,Israel) Opposes Israel's decision to build a canal linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea Dec. 17 36/172C 136-1 (US) Condemns aggression by South Africa against Angola and other African states. Dec. 17 36/172H 129-2 (US, UK) To organize an international conference of trade unions on sanctions against South Africa Dec. 17 36/172L 126-2 (US, UK) To encourage various international actions against South Africa Dec. 17 36/172N 139-1(US) Support of sanctions and other measures against South Africa Dec. 17 36/172O 138-1 (US) Cessation of further foreign investments and loans for South Africa Dec. 17 36/173 115-2 (US,Israel) Permanent sovereignty over national resources in occupied Palestine and other Arab territories Dec. 17 36/226B 121-2 (US,Israel) Non-applicability of Israeli law over the Golan Heights Dec. 18 36/234B 127-1 (US) UN accounting changes for 1980-1 1982 [only solitary US votes] Oct. 28 37/7 111-1 World Charter for protection of the ecology Nov. 15 37/11 136-1 Setting up UN conference on succession of states in respect to state property, archives, and debts Dec. 3 37/47 124-1 Appeal for universal ratification of the convention on the suppression and punishment of apartheid Dec. 9 37/69E 141-1 Promoting international mobilization against apartheid Dec. 9 37/69G 138-1 Drafting of international convention against apartheid in sports Dec. 9 37/69H 134-1 Cessation of further foreign investments and loans for South Africa Dec. 9 37/73 111-1 Need for a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty Dec. 9 37/78A 114-1 Request to US and USSR to transmit a status report on their nuclear arms negotiations [USSR abstained] Dec. 9 37/83 138-1 Prevention of arms race in outer space Dec. 10 37/94B 131-1 Support of UNESCO's efforts to promote a new world information and communications order Dec. 13 37/98A 95-1 Necessity of a convention on the prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons Dec. 16 37/103 113-1 Development of the principles and norms of international law relating to the new economic order Dec. 17 37/131 129-1 Measures concerning the UN Joint Staff Pension Board, including prevention of exclusion of certain UN employees Dec. 17 37/137 146-1 Protection against products harmful to health and the environment Dec. 18 37/199 131-1 Declares that education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development, etc. are human rights Dec. 20 37/204 141-1 Motion for a review of the implementation of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States Dec. 21 37/237/XI 132-1 Adequacy of the conference facilities of the Economic Commission for Africa at Addis Ababa Dec. 21 37/251 146-1 Development of the energy resources of developing countries Dec. 21 37/252 124-1 Restructuring international economic relations toward establishing a new international economic order 1983 Nov. 22 38/19 110-1 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid Nov. 22 38/25 131-1 The right of every state to choose its economic and social system in accord with the will of its people, without outside interference in whatever form it takes Dec. 5 38/39E 149-1 Disseminating material and organizing conferences in the campaign against apartheid Dec. 5 38/39I 140-1 Urges the Security Council to consider sanctions against South Africa as a protest against apartheid Dec. 5 38/39K 145-1 Authorizes the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports to continue its consultations Dec. 15 38/70 147-1 Outer space should be used for peaceful purposes; prevention of an arms race in outer space Dec. 16 38/124 132-1 Declares that education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development, etc. are human rights Dec. 19 38/128 110-1 Development of the principles and norms of international law relating to the new world economic order Dec. 19 38/150 137-1 Transport and communications Decade in Africa Dec. 20 38/182 116-1 Prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction Dec. 20 38/183M 133-1 Requests nuclear-arms States to submit to General Assembly annual reports on measures taken for prevention of nuclear war and reversing the arms race Dec. 20 38/187A 98-1 Urges intensification of negotiations to achieve an accord on a prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons Dec. 20 38/188G 113-1 Requests a study on the naval arms race Dec. 20 38/188H 132-1 Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues Dec. 20 38/202 126-1 Strengthening the capacity of the UN to respond to natural and other disasters 1984 [selected resolutions] Nov. 8 39/9 134-2 (US, Israel) Cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States Nov. 16 39/14 106-2 (US, Israel) Condemns Israeli attack against Iraqi nuclear installation Nov. 23 39/21 145-1 Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Dec. 5 39/411 119-2 (US, UK) Reaffirming the right of St. Helena to independence Dec. 5 39/42 121-2 (US, UK) Condemns support of South Africa in its Namibian and other policies Dec. 11 39/49A 127-2 (US, Israel) Rights of the Palestinian people Dec. 11 39/49D 121-3 (US, Israel, Canada) Convening a Middle-East peace conference Dec. 12 39/62 125-1 Prohibition of development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction Dec. 12 39/65B 84-1 Prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons Dec. 13 39/72G 146-2 (US, UK) International action to eliminate apartheid Dec. 13 39/73 138-2 (US, Turkey) Law of the sea. Dec. 14 39/95A 120-2 (US, Israel) Israeli human rights violations in occupied territories Dec. 14 39/95H 143-2 (US, Israel) Condemns assassination attempts against Palestinian mayors and calls for apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators Dec. 17 39/147 94-2 (US, Israel) Condemns Israel's refusal to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards Dec. 17 39/148N 123-1 Nuclear-test ban, cessation of nuclear-arms race, nuclear disarmament Dec. 17 39/151F 141-1 Request to continue UN study on military research and development Dec. 17 39/161B 143-1 Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples Dec. 18 39/224 146-2 (US, Israel) Economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people Dec. 18 39/232 118-2 (US, Israel) Support of the UN Industrial Development Organization Dec. 18 39/233 120-1 Industrial Development Decade for Africa Dec. 18 39/243 123-2 (US, Israel) Staff and administrative questions re the Economic Commission for Western Asia 1985 Dec. 13 40/114 134-1 Indivisibility and interdependence of economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. Dec. 13 40/124 130-1 Alternative approaches within the UN system for improving the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms Dec. 13 40/148 121-2 (US, Israel) Measures to be taken against Nazi, Fascist and neo-Fascist activities. Dec. 17 40/445 133-1 International cooperation in the interrelated areas of money, finance, debt, resource flow, trade and development 1986 Oct. 27 41/11 124-1 Zone of peace and co-operation in the South Atlantic Dec. 3 41/68A 148-1 New world information order, led by UNESCO, to eliminate existing imbalances in the information and communications fields Dec. 4 41/90 126-1 Review of the Implementation of the Declaration of the Strengthening of International Security Dec. 4 41/91 117-1 Need for result-oriented political dialogue to improve the international situation Dec. 4 41/92 102-2 (US, France) Establishment of a comprehensive system of international peace and security Dec. 4 41/128 146-1 Declaration on the right to development Dec. 4 41/151 148-1 Measures to improve the situation and ensure the human rights and dignity of all migrant workers Dec. 8 41/450 146-1 Protection against products harmful to health and the environment 1987 Oct. 15 42/5 153-2 (US, Israel) Cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States Nov. 12 42/18 94-2 (US, Israel) Need for compliance in the International Court of Justice concerning military and paramilitary activities against Nicaragua Dec. 2 42/69J 145-2 (US, Israel) Calls upon Israel to abandon plans to remove and resettle Palestinian refugees of the West Bank away from their homes and property Dec. 7 42/101 150-0-1 (US sole abstainer) A call for a "convention on the rights of the child" Dec. 7 42/159 153-2 (US, Israel) Measures to prevent international terrorism, study the underlying political and economic causes of terrorism, convene a conference to define terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of people for national liberation Dec. 8 42/162B 140-1 Financing the training of journalists and strengthening communication services in the underdeveloped world Dec. 11 42/176 94-2 (US, Israel) Trade embargo against Nicaragua Dec. 11 42/198 154-1 Furthering international co-operation regarding the external debt problems Dec. 11 42/441 131-1 Preparation of summary records for a UN conference on Trade and Development CUBA Necessity of ending the US embargo against Cuba 1992 Nov. 24 47/19 59-2(US, Israel)* 1993 Nov. 3 48/16 88-4(US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay) 1994 Oct. 26 49/9 101-2(US, Israel) 1995 Nov. 2 117-3(US, Israel, Uzbekistan) 1996 Nov. 12 138-3(US, Israel, Uzbekistan) [For the first time, all 15 European Union countries voted yes.] 1997 143-3 (US, Israel, Uzbekistan) 1998 157-2 (US, Israel) * Romania also voted "no", by mistake. It should be remembered that for years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an "international pariah".