UN Human Rights Council to hold 3rd Israel session

Updated: 2006-11-14 15:00

GENEVA - The new UN Human Rights Council said it will hold a third special session Wednesday on Israel, focusing on alleged rights abuses in Gaza.

US President George W. Bush (R) listens to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as they take a few questions from the press after their Oval Office meeting at the White House in Washington, DC. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel and the US had "complete understanding" on Iran as President George W. Bush threatened to isolate Tehran unless it suspends its nuclear program. [AFP]
The council, created earlier this year to replace the highly politicized and much-maligned UN Human Rights Commission, has drawn fire from the United States for spending a great deal of time criticizing Israel. The US is not a member of the body.

This week's meeting in Geneva was requested by Bahrain and Pakistan on behalf of Arab and Muslim groups "to consider and take action on the gross human rights violations emanating from Israeli military incursions" in Gaza, the council said in a statement on Monday.

Israeli artillery killed 19 civilians Wednesday in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun amid an offensive meant to halt militant rocket attacks on Israel.

The United States vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution Saturday that sought to condemn Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip and demand Israeli troops pull out of the territory. US Ambassador John Bolton said the Arab-backed draft resolution was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

The UN top rights watchdog, which took over from the former Human Rights Commission in June, held two special sessions this summer to discuss an earlier Israeli offensive in Gaza and the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon.

US officials say the council has made a slow and discouraging start and says it serves as a forum for political games.

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