UN backs damning report on Israel's flotilla attack

29th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday agreed to back a report which found "clear evidence" for legal action against Israel over its attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The resolution, which was moved by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, was approved with 30 votes in favour and 15 abstentions. The United States opposed the resolution.

It "endorses the conclusions contained in the report" of an inquiry ordered by the council on the May 31 incident during which nine Turkish nationals were killed when Israeli soldiers stormed ships carrying aid to Gaza.

The inquiry said Israel broke international humanitarian and human rights law in the incident, and found "clear evidence to support prosecutions" for crimes including "wilful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health."

Of the nine fatalities in the incident, the probe said that six were victims of actions "consistent with ... summary execution."

Israel had rejected the probe from the outset, but it is backing another separate inquiry set up by the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on the incident, as well as conducting its own.

Explaining the European Union's decision to abstain in the vote, Belgian ambassador Alex Van Meeuwen expressed regret that the resolution failed to include reference to the separate UN inquiry.

US ambassador Eileen Donahoe said the United States had opposed the resolution as it called on the UN General Assembly to consider the report, a move deemed unhelpful in light of ongoing Arab-Israeli peace talks.

The flotilla "incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive Arab and Israeli peace," said Donahoe.

"All parties should create an environment conducive to these talks," she stressed.

The United States had earlier also criticised the report for being "unbalanced."

"We are concerned by the report's unbalanced language, tone and conclusions," Donahoe told the Human Rights Council on Monday.

"We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks now under way or actions that could make it harder," she said then.

© 2010 AFP

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