U.N. rights council to discuss Israel

Date: 08-08-06

GENEVA - The new U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a special session this week in a move initiated by Muslim countries to condemn Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon, officials said Tuesday.

In a similar session last month, the council voted 29-11 to deplore Israel's military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The council will "consider and take action on the gross human rights violations by Israel in Lebanon," according to the request filed by Tunisia on behalf of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The statement said the council should consider the July 30 Israeli air strike on the Lebanese town of Qana, which killed 28 people, as well as "countrywide targeting of innocent civilians and destruction of vital civilian infrastructure."

Marie Heuze, chief spokeswoman in Geneva for the United Nations, said the council would meet either Thursday or Friday.

The session was called because 16 countries - more than the requisite one-third of the 47-member council - backed Tunisia's request for the special session. Non-Arab countries signing the petition included China, Cuba, Russia and South Africa.

Israel and the United States, which are not on the council, criticized last month's vote, saying it was a continuation of practices by the dissolved U.N. Human Rights Commission, which singled out alleged Israeli abuses in every annual session.

Five countries abstained in the July vote, the council's first emergency meeting. The session on Lebanon will be the second.

The council replaced the discredited Human Rights Commission in June.


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