- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

GENEVA — The U.N. Human Rights Commission yesterday condemned Israel’s settlement of “occupied Palestinian territory,” including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and demanded the government reverse the policy.

The 53-member U.N. watchdog also criticized Cuban rights abuses and requested that the global body monitor the communist country. The commission also was expected to vote on resolutions condemning abuses in Belarus and Sudan. Both Cuba and Sudan are members of the commission.

The resolution on Israel, passed by a 39-2 vote with 12 abstentions, said the government should “prevent any new installation of settlers in the occupied territories.” It called for Israel to guarantee the safety of Palestinian civilians. Australia and the United States cast the two opposing votes.

Censure by the commission brings no penalties but spotlights a government’s record, and delegations lobby hard to avoid it.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said the “one-sided” resolution brought shame on the United Nations, noting that Israel plans to withdraw from Gaza and the northern West Bank in a few months.

“If there is a dismantlement of settlements on the ground that will begin in a matter of weeks, what is the relevance of such a resolution?” Mr. Levanon said.

Former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, head of the U.S. delegation, said it was unfair to single out Israel.

The commission also passed a resolution condemning the use of force by Israel against Palestinian civilians, by a 29-10 vote. A third resolution calling on Israel to respect the human rights of Syrian citizens in the occupied Golan Heights also was adopted, by a 32-2 vote.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution on Cuba, passed by a 21-17 vote, requested that the commission renew resolutions from previous years condemning Cuba’s rights record. The resolution also renewed top U.N. investigator Christine Chanet’s mandate to report to the commission on the country’s human rights situation.

“We have introduced this resolution because Cuba has not cooperated with the special procedures, it has not allowed a visit by the personal representative of the high commissioner, and because the situation there has not improved,” said Lino Piedra, a member of the U.S. delegation.

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