The UN Human Rights Council passed a seventh resolution criticizing Israel on Friday, this time for it's 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 had not yet been 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."
Israeli ambassador: UNHRC is a failure (archive)
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 scrutinized.
Dugard, a former anti-apartheid civil rights lawyer from South Africa, has frequently clashed with Israel, who notes 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 Kassam 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.