UN RIGHTS BODY TO OPEN PERMANENT PROBE AGAINST ISRAEL

3/14/2007 4:50:00 PM GMT

(MaanImages) A 4-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed by Israeli troops in Gaza in August 2006

The UN’s Human Rights Council is expected to place Israel under permanent investigation for its continuous “violations” of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories until it withdraws to the pre-1967 borders, diplomatic sources told Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Opening a permanent probe against Israel is one of at least four other anti-Israeli actions the Council is expected to take during its fourth session, which began in Geneva on Monday and ends on April 5, Neuer told The Jerusalem Post.

The UN Human Rights Council was created in June to replace the widely discredited Human Rights Commission, which was scrapped because it had a faulty membership system.

Up to now the 47-member body, which includes Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Cgina, has censured only one country – Israel – for its human rights violations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

It has passed eight resolutions against Israel, and has held three special sessions to discuss the Jewish state’s human rights violations, despite Western opposition.

Israel is only an observer on the Council, while the U.S. refuses to join the rights body over the continued condemnation of its strongest ally.

Neuer and Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yitzhak Levanon, predicted that this session would also focus on Israel’s rights violations, although the council is expected to discuss human rights abuses in other parts of the world, including in the Sudanese war-torn region of Darfur.

“I’m expecting there will be some clashes concerning Israel,” Levanon told The Jerusalem Post.

Neuer said Israel would be slammed for the excavation works near Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

Palestinians and Muslims all over the world have angrily condemned Israel’s destructive digging which began on February 6 near Islam’s third holiest site.

The Israeli government says that the excavations are aimed at preparing for a construction project needed to repair a ramp that partially collapsed in a snowstorm three years ago.

But Muslim leaders warn that the digging could damage the foundations of the mosque complex, known to Muslims as the al- Haram al-Qudsi al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary), and as Temple Mount to Jews and some Christians.

Although Jerusalem’s mayor ordered a review of the Israeli construction project, the excavation works didn’t stop.

Moreover, the Council would also condemn Israel for refusing entry to two investigative teams in July and in November, Neuer said.

The first international mission was sent to examine the impact of Israel’s deadly attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza following the capture of Cpl. Gilad Schalit by Palestinian resistance fighters in June.

The second team was dispatched to investigate the Israeli army’s bloody attack on a residential neighborhood in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza last November, where 18 Palestinian civilians, including women and children, were killed and about 60 others wounded.

Levanon said both missions were denied entry because “they were biased against Israel”.

The Human Council is also set to hear a report compiled by UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard that compares Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories to that of the former apartheid system in South Africa.

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