UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet (AP/Martial Trezzini, Keystone/Pool) (AP/Martial Trezzini, Keystone/Pool)
Michelle Bachelet

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession,” Netanyahu stated. “This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide.”

By Associated Press and World Israel News 

The top U.N. human rights body on Thursday passed a resolution aimed to intensify scrutiny of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, after the U.N. rights chief said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and faulted the militant group Hamas for violations of international law in their 11-day war this month.

The 24-9 vote, with 14 abstentions, capped a special Human Rights Council session on the rights situation faced by Palestinians. The session and the resolution were arranged by Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries, which have strongly supported Palestinians in their struggles with Israel.

The resolution, which was denounced by Israel, calls for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” — the most potent tool at the council’s disposal — to monitor and report on rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. It would be the first such COI with an “ongoing” mandate.

The commission is also to investigate “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict” including discrimination and repression, according to the text. Amid signs that the resolution would pass, its authors added more teeth to its language with a late revision on Wednesday.

The revised text calls on states to refrain from “transferring arms” — the recipients were not specified — when they assess “a clear risk” that such weapons might be used to commit serious violations of human rights or humanitarian law. That appeared aimed to countries that ship weapons to Israel.

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide.”

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the resolution, saying it amounted to “international recognition of Israel’s systemic oppression and discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

“This reality of apartheid and impunity can no longer be ignored,” it added.

China and Russia were among those voting in favor. Several Western and African countries voted no.

British ambassador Simon Manley said the commission’s “overly expansive mandate … risks hardening positions on both sides,” and Austrian ambassador, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, said the session “continues the regrettable practice of singling out Israel for criticism in the Human Rights Council.”

Russian envoy Olga Vorontsova said the resolution “has the goal of establishing all of the facts behind all alleged violations in the latest period.” Venezuelan Ambassador Hector Constant Rosales said a resolution “condemning the genocidal action of the Israeli government” was urgently needed.

Israel had called on “friendly” countries to oppose the meeting, and the United States — while not a member of the 47-member state body — did not take part, even in its status as an observer state. An array of countries denounced the latest violence and urged efforts to address the roots of the Mideast conflict.

After the vote, the U.S. mission in Geneva said the United States “deeply regrets” the move to create an “open-ended” Commission of Inquiry. It said some unspecified member states of the council “have chosen to engage in a distraction that adds nothing to ongoing diplomatic and humanitarian efforts” in the region.

Israel — backed at times by the United States — has long accused the council of anti-Israel bias and has generally refused to cooperate with its investigators.

Israeli Ambassador Meirav Eilon Shahar said Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and its allies — had fired 4,400 rockets at Israeli civilians from “from Palestinian homes, hospitals, and schools. Each one of these rockets constitutes a war crime.”

“What would you do if rockets were fired at Dublin, Paris, or Madrid,” she asked.

President Rivlin: ‘The World Turned Upside Down’

In a long-winded comment during a special session at the UNHRC council in Geneva on Wednesday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet of Chile blamed Israel for starting the conflict by inflaming tensions in Jerusalem and that “as a result, Hamas and other armed groups had launched a heavy rocket barrage towards Israel.”

Bachelet’s comments were rife with the anti-Israel talking points, although she acknowledged that Israel attacked Gaza “in response” to the Hamas rockets and had taken care to avoid civilian casualties.

“Government buildings, residential homes and apartments, humanitarian organizations, medical and media facilities were totally or partially destroyed, despite Israel’s precautions – these attacks may constitute war crimes,” Bachelet said in her remarks that were posted to the UNHRC website.

“The world turned upside down. Instead of hearing the free world speak out clearly against terror organization Hamas and its leaders, clear examples of war criminals, the UN Human Rights Council makes an inexplicable decision against Israeli citizens who faced the criminal fire of thousands of missiles against innocent civilians,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stated.

“Even after these mistaken and unacceptable decisions, Israel will continue to be committed – always and before everything else – to the security of its citizens and ensuring their safety,” he declared.

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