Islamic states and their allies sharply criticised Israel in the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, several countries accusing it of displaying cruelty and careless violence in the Middle East.
The Palestinian Authority, Israel’s partner in the faltering U.S.-brokered peace process, also accused it of painting the Jewish state “with the blood of victims”.
The verbal assault came as two critical reports on Israeli actions in the region ordered up by the 47-nation council were presented to delegations.
The body’s members are elected by regional constituencies, which give Islamic states and their allies a majority.
Israel, which is not a council member, accused the body of being “obsessively biased” against it while ignoring gross human rights violations in countries like Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Turkey, long an Israeli ally but now a sharp critic, told the council Israel “must put an end to its culture of violence” while Libya, recently elected to the body, called for Israeli leaders to be put on trial for war crimes.
Similar views were voiced by other countries of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) ranging from Pakistan and Iran through Syria, Egypt, Gulf Arab states and Algeria, and by Nigeria.
The OIC has proposed a resolution — almost certain to be passed — calling for continued U.N. surveillance of Israel’s own investigation into the Gaza conflict.
The U.N. confrontation came as new talks between Israelis and Palestinians promoted by U.S. President Barack Obama appeared in jeopardy as Israel’s freeze of Jewish settlement- building on occupied Palestinian territory was lifted.
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, despite the strong words of his chief diplomat in Geneva, who said settlers were “shamelessly rejoicing,” held back from acting on a threat to quit the peace negotiations.
The two reports presented at the rights body were on how Israel and the Palestinians had reacted to an earlier U.N. call for them to investigate abuses during the 2008-09 Gaza fighting and on an Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in May.
Both reports were produced by three-member teams of independent jurists appointed by the council. Israel declined to cooperate with either or allow them to visit the country, saying any such mission was bound to be prejudiced against it.
One report, on Israel’s invasion in December 2008-January 2009 of the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza strip on which more than 1,400 Palestinians died, said Israeli investigations into how its troops behaved had not been open or convincing.
The other, on the flotilla incident in international waters, rejected Israeli assertions that the pro-Palestinian activists on board a Turkish-chartered ship seized by paratroopers were armed or threatened the lives of the Israeli soldiers
Nine of the activists on the ship, eight Turkish citizens and one U.S. citizen of Turkish origin, were killed by the Israelis and the report said some of them appeared to have been victims of summary executions.
Israel has rejected such allegations in the past, and its ambassador, Aharon Leshno Yaar, said on Monday that the investigation team’s mandate “predetermined the responsibility of Israel” and showed the council’s prejudice against it.