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New UN Rights Body to Review Alleged Abuses By Israel

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The new United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent part of the agenda of future meetings.

The former, discredited U.N. Commission on Human Rights was abolished because nations argued it had become too politicized.

Senior Counsel for B'Nai B'Rith International in Canada David Matas said the U.N. Council was created to avoid the politicization and focus on Israel that existed under the old commission, which also reviewed alleged Israeli abuses every time it met. "In the end, there was a resolution passed condemning Israel. It was the only country-specific resolution," he said.

Matas noted the council did not pass specific resolutions on other countries, such as Sudan. "Simply in terms of numbers, the number of people killed in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza is nowhere near the number of people killed in Sudan. And yet, there is nothing about Sudan, or Iran, or Burma or any other country, where there is glaring human rights problems," he said.

The resolution was adopted by 29 votes in favor, five against and 12 abstentions.

The United States is not a member of the Council, so it has no right to vote on resolutions. However, the U.S. ambassador expressed disappointment with the outcome.

In addition to the resolution, 21 mainly Islamic countries have requested an emergency special session of the Human Rights Council, which is likely to focus on Israel. The session is expected to take place late next week.

The resolution also called for U.N. human rights investigators to report on the situation in the territories at the council's next regular session, set for September.

Israel protested Friday's vote, describing it as "imbalanced and intentionally one-sided."

During its two week session, the council also adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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