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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 00:18 GMT
Mid-East 'needs peacekeeping force'
John Dugard, the commission's special investigator to the Palestinian territories
The investigator's report detaills human rights violations
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By the BBC's Imogen Foulkes

Escalating violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has brought a sense of urgency to a United Nations debate on human rights in the Middle East.

The UN Human Rights Commission, meeting in Geneva, has been told that the situation is now so serious that only an international force in the region can bring an end to the violence.

Hanan Ashrawi addresses the commission
The Palestinian representative called on the EU to become more involved
John Dugard, the commission's special investigator to the Palestinian territories, presented a report detailing a string of human rights violations.

They included the indiscriminate killing of civilians by both sides; the destruction of Palestinian homes by the Israeli military; the detention of children and the continuing settlement of Israeli communities on Palestinian land.

His report concludes that the two parties are unable to bring the violence to an end by themselves and that an international peace-keeping force is now imperative.

But the Israeli Government refused to co-operate with Mr Dugard during his visits to the region, claiming he had no authority.

In another rebuff, Israel's representative to the commission dismissed the report's findings, saying Israel would continue to defend itself against terrorist attacks.

'Nation in captivity'

Hanan Ashrawi, representing the Palestinian Authority, received applause from commission delegates following a speech in which she talked of the pain of a nation in captivity.

Mrs Ashrawi called on the European Union to become more involved in the peace process, claiming this would provide a balance to what she described as the favouritism of the United States towards Israel.

The Swiss foreign minister called on Israel to respect the Geneva conventions on human rights, while the French foreign minister warned that the fight against terrorism should not become an excuse for allowing human rights violations.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Annan appeal brings mixed response
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Israel goes in hard
18 Mar 02 | Middle East
Annan denounces Israel's offensive
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