By BENNY AVNI
Staff Reporter of the
November 16, 2006
UNITED NATIONS — As Palestinian Arab rockets struck two Israeli towns yesterday, U.N. bodies prepared to launch no fewer than two overlapping "fact-finding" missions to second-guess Israel's anti-terrorist tactics. President Carter could head one of those missions.
The U.N. General Assembly is expected to convene a special emergency session tomorrow to deal with the November 8 Israel Defense Force artillery strike on the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, which killed 19 civilians. A draft resolution for the assembly session calls on the U.N. secretary-general to establish a fact-finding mission into the event and requests that he report back to the assembly in a month.
And yesterday in Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights Council, which in its five months of existence has failed to pass one resolution on any country other than
A diplomat in
"I wish there was some coherence at the U.N.," a U.N. official who requested anonymity said yesterday. As things stand, he added, no rule exists to prevent system-wide redundancies where separate bodies can create missions to investigate the same event.
The proposed resolution for tomorrow's General Assembly session draws most of its language from a Security Council resolution proposal that was vetoed on Friday. In addition to the fact-finding mission, the new proposal calls on "the international community, including the Quartet" — America, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia — to establish "an international mechanism to protect civilians."
The French ambassador to the United Nations,
Asked about the idea of a council-sponsored fact-finding mission and the establishment of a mechanism to protect civilians in Gaza, the American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, responded to The New York Sun with one word: "No."
In the past, Arab and Muslim countries have used the General Assembly, where they can easily marshal a voting majority, to convene emergency sessions designed to override an American veto in the Security Council. Friday's assembly meeting will mark the 15th time the emergency session has been convened since its establishment in 1997 to condemn the construction of a new Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem.
"The assembly turns itself into a court of law where the Arabs have a majority," the deputy Israeli U.N. envoy,
In Geneva, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 32 in favor, eight opposed, and six abstaining, that condemned Israel for the "willful killing" of Palestinian Arab civilians. Most of the Europeans on the 47-member council opposed the resolution or abstained.
In the aftermath of the
But in a speech to Jewish leaders in Los Angeles yesterday,