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UN Human Rights Commission Condemns Israel RULE
Posted: May 9, 2003

For years, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has singled out Israel for condemnation, while ignoring other countries guilty of serious human rights violations

Israel was once again the subject of condemnation by the highly politicized 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission during its annual six-week session from March 17 - April 23, 2003. Israel is not a member of the commission. Human rights groups have long been critical of the Commission for not dealing with some of the most egregious human rights abuses around the world. With members such as Cuba, Sudan, Syria and China, and under the Chairmanship of Libya, Human Rights Watch referred to this year's commission as an "abusers club" of governments who are hostile to human rights.

On April 15, 2003, the commission voted on four resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolutions followed heated arguments earlier in the commission's six-week session during which Palestinian delegate Nabil Ramlawi claimed that Israel used forms of killings and torture that "were worse than the practices of Nazism."

By a vote of 50 to 1, the commission passed a resolution put forward by European countries which voiced "grave concern" at continuing Israeli settlement activities "including installation in the occupied territories." The U.S. was alone in voting against the motion, while Australia and Costa Rico abstained.

In a tougher, seven-page resolution sponsored by African and Arab nations, Israel was criticized for "the gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular, acts of extrajudicial killing, closures, collective punishments, the persistence in establishing settlements, arbitrary detentions, the besieging of Palestinian towns and villages, the shelling of Palestinian residential districts from warplanes, tanks and Israeli battleships, the conducting of incursions into towns and camps and the killing of men, women and children there." The resolution also condemned the "acts of mass killing perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people." It was passed by 33 votes to 5, with Canada, Germany, Peru and the U.S. voting against the resolution, while 15 other, mainly European countries abstained.

Another 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," passed by a vote of 51 to 1, with the U.S. voting against. A final resolution called on Israel to desist from changing the physical character and legal status of the Syrian Golan Heights it occupied in the 1967 war. That resolution passed by a vote of 31 to 1, with 21 abstentions.

Anti-Semitism deleted from resolution by UN Human Rights Commission

A resolution put forward by South Africa and the African group of UN states with the support of 28 members of the commission, as a follow up to the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, resulted in the deletion of "anti-Semitism" from the resolution on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The U.S. delegation did move to mention "anti-Semitism" in the preamble of a resolution on religious intolerance which was approved, but only after 27 member states had registered their opposition by either voting against or abstaining. The debate featured Ireland prominently standing in the way of including anti-Semitism; Pakistan stating that anti-Semitism had nothing to do with religious intolerance and Cuba accusing the U.S. of acting under intimidation from Jews.

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