U.N. council’s session on Goldstone tackles Jerusalem violence

NEW YORK (JTA) – Delegates focused on recent violence in Jerusalem in a U.N. Human Rights Council session devoted to reviewing the Goldstone report on the Gaza war.

As the 47-member council met in Geneva this week for a special session devoted to the report it commissioned on "war crimes" perpetrated in the Gaza war, member states issued warnings Thursday about escalating violence between Israelis and Arabs in Jerusalem.

Jordan’s envoy said his government was deeply concerned with "escalations in Jerusalem" and criticized Israel for violating the rights of Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.

Britain’s representative expressed concern that the tensions will be used to fan the flames of conflict.

"There is no room for inflammatory gestures in Jerusalem because extremists will take advantage of them," he said.

South Africa berated Israel for its "recent attack on Haram al-Sharif," the Muslim name for the Temple Mount, and called on the international community to investigate Israel’s "systematic" violations of human rights.

After Yom Kippur and for several days over Sukkot, Israeli police clashed with Arab protesters in Jerusalem. Israel’s decision to bar some Palestinians from the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday prompted calls by some Islamic religious figures to defend the mount with blood if necessary.

In Geneva, the U.S. representative said Thursday that the Goldstone report on the Gaza war — which Israel has denounced as biased and misguided — failed to account for attacks on Israel before the war and disregarded Israel’s right to self-defense.

Other members of the Human Rights Council were deeply critical of Israel’s conduct during the conflict in Gaza. Sudan’s envoy said Israel spared "neither mosques or children or women or even trees."

The Goldstone report accuses Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last winter’s war, which Israel called Operation Cast Lead.

The special session that began Thursday is expected to result in a vote Friday on a resolution endorsing the Goldstone report recommendations and sending the matter to the United Nations in New York. The draft resolution reportedly also cites the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

This week’s session marks the sixth time the Human Rights Council has singled out Israel for a special session in the council’s three-year existence.

On Wednesday, the Goldstone report was discussed at a monthly meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the situation in the Middle East. In that discussion, Israel was slammed for the Gaza war and its continuing blockade of the coastal strip.

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