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Freedom Flotilla Fallout

By Curtis F.J. Doebbler

Al-Jazeerah,, June 7, 2010

Geneva - On 2 June 2010, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms possible the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships” and calling for the Council to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission to investigate the violations of international law resulting from Israel’s action.
The resolution also calls on Israel to “to immediately lift the siege on occupied Gaza and other occupied Territories.”
The resolution entitled "The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces Against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy" (UN Doc. A/HRC/14/L.1) passed with 32 votes in favour, 3 against, and 9 abstentions.
The United States voted against the resolution claiming that the Council should have waited until the facts had been “discovered and understood.”
The overwhelming majority of 47 states that a members of the Council as well as observers spoke in favour of the resolution condeming Israel’s action during the emergency meeting that spanned two days, starting on Tuesday evening.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had condemned the attacks on the opening day of the Council session saying she was "shocked" at Israel's actions and her deputy reiterated this sentiment speaking at the opening of the special meeting.
The Israeli Ambassador opened the meeting by "regretting the loss of life" caused by his government's action, but then spent almost ten minutes arguing that if the Council took any action on this matter it would interfere with the peace process and claiming that too little information is known about the situation.
Speaking next the Palestinian delegate said Israel's action and its defense of these actions showed that it "believed that it was above the law." He also stressed that "humanitarian assistance should reach the Gaza Strip immediately." The Palestinian Ambassador was not in Geneva for the meeting.
The Turkish Ambassador called the Israeli actions "unacceptable" and recalled the condemnations issues by several states, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In total seventy-two states took the floor as well as two intergovernmental organizations, the Palestinian National Institution for Human Rights, and twelve non-governmental organizations.
In a statement read out on their behalf the Palestinian National Institution for Human Rights condemned the Israel actions calling it a violation of the human rights of freedom expression and assembly as well as the rights of human rights defenders. It also called on sanctions to be imposed on Israel.
The NGO, Nord-Sud XXI referred to the words of the UN Special Rapporteur who has stated that "[i]t is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts."
The vote came at the end of a special segment of Human Rights Council, which is currently holding its 14th Regular Session in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meeting had been called by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Sudan on behalf of Arab States and Palestine, who also drafted the resolution that was then discussed with other states.
The Human Rights Council adopted the resolution just hours after the UN Security Council refused to consider a resooution and instead agreed upon a presidential statement that in which it “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza." The Security Council had expressly rejected a proposal by Arab countries that would have demanded an impartial investigation, similar to the one called for by the Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council will now have to decide on the exact makeup of the independent international fact finding mission and to name its members.




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