[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 15 April, 2004, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
UN condemns Israeli settlements
Israeli police officers arrests Palestinian civilian
The UN has long condemned Israeli actions against Palestinians
The United Nations human rights body has called on Israel to end settlement activity on Palestinian land and stop work on its barrier in the West Bank.

Israeli ambassador Yaakov Levy called the resolution "disconnected from reality" as it ignored a US-backed Israeli plan to leave some settlements.

Ireland's envoy said they were "illegal and a major obstacle to peace".

Governments criticised by the Geneva-based body do not face penalties, but often lobby hard to avoid censure.

Twenty-seven states backed the EU proposal demanding Israel reverse its settlement policy and construction of the "so-called security fence in occupied Palestinian territory".

Settlements are both illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to peace as they undermine the realisation of a two-state solution to the conflict
Irish ambassador Mary Whelan
Two countries - the United States and Congo - rejected the resolution while 24 mainly Arab and Asian countries abstained.

The abstainers said they backed the demands but could not support the whole resolution which called on the Palestinian Authority to "concretely demonstrate" its determination to prevent violence.

"How can the Palestinian Authority be expected to fulfil its obligations in the midst of military occupation?" Pakistani Ambassador Shaukat Umer said.

The US dismissed the EU's resolution as "one-sided and distorted".

'Land grab'

On a separate resolution - brought by the OIC group of Islamic nations, Cuba and Zimbabwe - the commission voted 31-7 to condemn Israeli violations in Palestinian territories, citing assassinations, the bombing of civilian areas, blockades, house demolitions and destruction of farmland.

The resolution said the barrier - which Israel says is needed to prevent suicide attacks - disrupts the lives of thousands of Palestinians by cutting them off from their land, jobs and schools.

Aerial view of Netzarim settlement in the Gaza Strip
Israel plans to evacuate settlements like this one in Gaza
It constitutes a land grab since it cuts deep into the West Bank at several points, the resolution said.

The US, Australia, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy and Britain voted against the second resolution. Fifteen countries abstained.

Correspondents say the commission - which is dominated by countries from the developing world - invariably condemns Israel.

But the resolutions this time come against the backdrop of controversy over US President George W Bush's backing for West Bank settlement and the "security" barrier.

Muslim countries also gathered 31 votes in favour of a separate resolution condemning Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. Only the United States voted against, while 21 mostly European countries abstained.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific