UN expert: US, EU ignoring rights abuses by Israel

A UN human rights expert on Wednesday criticized the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations for ignoring countless Israeli violations of human rights, international law and other standards. John Dugard, a South African lawyer responsible for investigating alleged human rights abuses by Israel in Palestinian areas, said the United States and other international powers who make up the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators have done nothing to rein in Israel. "Israel's conduct is morally indefensible," Dugard told an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council. "I am concerned with the law, and here it is clear that Israel is in violation of the most fundamental norms of humanitarian law and human rights law." Dugard was the keynote speaker at the first emergency session of the new U.N. Human Rights Council, called at the request Friday of Arab countries, who are seeking a resolution that would censure Israel for its behavior. Israel's ambassador to the UN's European headquarters in Geneva called the session "a planned and premeditated" attack on his country, and said it continued the anti-Israel bias set by the discredited UN Human Rights Commission, which was phased out this year. Dugard, an anti-apartheid civil rights lawyer in the 1980s, was appointed by the dissolved commission in 2001 to investigate only violations by the Israeli side, prompting Israel and others to dismiss his reports as one-sided.