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UN Group’s Charges That Israel is Responsible for Deaths of Arab Prisoners Scored As Wild Accusation

February 14, 1977
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The United Nations Human Rights Commission, holding its 33rd session here, accused Israel of responsibility for the deaths of Arab detainees due to prison conditions. The Israeli observer on the Commission, Ambassador Theodor Meron, denounced what he called a “wild accusation” and said that within the UN system today “human rights are treated exclusively in the political context.”

The charge against Israel was contained in a cable dispatched by the Commission to the Israeli government. The final text, drafted after prolonged deliberation, was adopted by a vote of 22-3 with five abstentions. Only the United States, Canada and Costa Rica cast negative votes. A draft presented by the Palestine Liberation Organization was not accepted.

The cable said: “Mindful of its duty to promote and encourage respect for human rights throughout the world (the commission) is deeply concerned at reports of the deaths of Arab’ detainees in Israeli prisons which are attributed to the conditions of their imprisonment and calls upon the government of Israel to take urgent measures to ensure conformity with the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention’s treatment of detainees.”

Meron said, “It is unfortunately a fact that the Commission has ignored most cases of grave violations of human rights for fear of offending influential states, including quite a few that are represented on this Commission and instead turns once more to wild accusations against Israel as the very first item on its agenda.” Meron said the so-called evidence against Israel, was submitted by a committee “of dubious legality” composed “of representatives of countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel and vote against Israel on every matter.”

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