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U.N. Human Rights Panel Accuses Israel of Genocide

February 23, 1988
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The United Nations Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution Monday accusing Israel of “genocide against the Palestinian people” and criticizing countries that give “military, economic and political support” to Israel.

The vote was 30 to 4 with 8 abstentions. The negative votes were cast by the United States, Norway, West Germany and Britain. Abstaining were Belgium, Costa Rica, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal and Spain.

Marshall Breger, the American delegate to the commission, assailed the resolution, saying it “reduced the support of the U.N. among the people of the United States. It exceeded the limits, and the American people have to consider the importance they should attach to an international forum that produces resolutions of this kind.”

Breger, a former liaison to the Jewish community under President Reagan, added in an interview that “One has to wonder whether the resolution has any concern about the quality of life and the human situation of the Palestinians or whether it was simply drafted for political effects.”

The human rights commission is nearing the end of its annual six-week conference here. The first two weeks were devoted almost entirely to denunciations of Israel and its practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the Monday resolution, the commission cited “Israel’s brutal practices and crimes of genocide against the Palestinian people, and its acts of physical liquidation aimed at eliminating the question of Palestine and hindering the exercise by the Palestinians of their right to self-determination.”

The commission said it “reiterates its grave concern at the military, economic and political support given by some states to Israel, which encourages and strengthens policies pursued by Israel based on aggression, expansion and continued occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories.”

The resolution recalled the massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut in 1982, but did not mention they were carried out by Lebanese Christian Phalangists who, though allied with Israel at the time, acted on their own.

The resolution also criticized “the continuous air raids on Palestinian camps in Lebanon and the crimes currently being committed by Israel in killing, wounding, detaining, torturing and deporting Palestinian people.”

It concluded by reaffirming “the inalienble right of the Palestinian people to self-determination without external interference and the establishment of their independent and sovereign state on their national soil in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and General Assembly resolutions.”

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