The tally was 29-2, as only US and Australia voted in opposition at the United Nation’s Human Rights Council on Friday 18 May in Geneva, to establish an investigation into Israel’s killing of Palestinians during protests along the Gaza border, as war crimes.
The special session conducted by the UN Human Rights Council concluded with a resolution by member states to mandate an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate weeks of violence after the bloodiest day of violence on the Israeli border with Gaza.
More specifically, the mandate sought to investigate the violence which took place since 30 March. The date, dubbed the ‘Great March of Return’ when demonstrations occurred along the border with Israel.
Defending Australia’s decision, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Fairfax Media the resolution prejudged the outcome and failed to acknowledge the role of the Palestinian group Hamas in inciting the protests in Gaza.
“Australia voted against the Human Rights Council resolution because of our principled opposition to resolutions that fail the test of balance and impartiality,” Ms Bishop said.
This sentiment was not shared by the majority of the member states as well as the UN human rights chief.
The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Zeid Ra’ ad Al Hussein condemned the disastrous situation. He argued, that the use of force by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians in Gaza was “wholly disproportionate”.
According to UN human rights chief, who addressed the council, in total, 87 Palestinians have been killed during the protests, including 12 children, and thousands injured by live ammunition fire.
“Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities” said the commissioner.
“They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; de-humanised by the Israeli authorities to such a point, it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”
These developments come after a request on Tuesday by Palestine and the Arab Group of States, for an investigation probe.
The resolution was adopted by 29 votes in favour, with two against and 14 abstentions.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed the UN decision, urged for a speedy implementation “to stop Israeli war crimes”.
Whilst, Israel and the United States denounced that the Human Rights Council, as being made up of states with a high degree of anti-Israel bias.
Rejecting the vote as an attempt to undermine Israel’s right to self-defence, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the vote and the council as “irrelevant.”
The US has stood by Israel during the past week’s violence, which coincided with newly established US embassy in Jerusalem.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel would not cooperate with the investigation.
“We have no intention of cooperating with an international investigative committee that wants to dictate results without a connection to facts,” said Mr Hotovely candidly.