UN body backs flotilla report

Human Rights Council endorses criticisms but does not call for a criminal investigation into raid on Turkish ship.

    The inquiry found 'clear evidence to support prosecutions' over the raid on the Mavi Marmara [AFP]

    The United Nations Human Rights Council has endorsed a fiercely critical report on Israel's raid on an aid flotilla that tried to reach the Gaza Strip in May, but stopped short of pressing for an international criminal inquiry.

    The resolution, which was moved by Pakistan on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference [OIC], was approved on Wednesday with 30 votes in favour and 15 abstentions.

    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 after Israeli soldiers stormed the Mavi Marmara.

    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."

    It also renewed the mandate of a separate investigation team that has been looking into whether Israelis and Palestinians have been properly investigating alleged rights abuses during the Gaza conflict in 2008-2009.

    Israeli rejection

    However, there was no indication in two separate resolutions tabled at the 47-nation council that Israel's critics were aiming to have it taken soon before the International Criminal Court [ICC] in the Hague. That possibility was raised on Tuesday by a British judge on the UN council-appointed team that investigated the raid.

    Israel has rejected the investigation from the beginning, but it is backing a separate inquiry on the incident set up by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, as well as conducting its own.

    The European Union's abstained in the vote, citing a failure to include reference to the separate UN inquiry.

    The United States was the only nation to oppose the resolution. Eileen Donahoe, the US ambassador, said it was because it deemed it unhelpful in light of Arab-Israeli peace talks and that the UN inquiry took primacy.

    "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.

    The US 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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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