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Hamas official to address UN´s Human Rights Council

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Senior Hamas official Ismail al-Ashqar is set to speak before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, the Maan news agency reported.

Al-Ashqar will discuss the issue of Hamas members being held in Israeli jails. He is the deputy head of Hamas’ Change and Reform party and is slated to protest "the continuation of the abduction of Palestinian legislators on behalf of Hamas by Israel."

Several months ago Israel arrested Hamas parliamentary speaker Aziz Dwaik and two Hamas legislators residing in Jerusalem.

Al-Ashqar is also the cousin of Abdul Latif Al-Ashqar, a senior official in Hamas’ military wing considered to be Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s heir.

His visit in Switzerland is the second of a Hamas official in the past few months. He was preceded by a delegation headed by Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri who met with local parliament members in an effort to develop lines of communications between Hamas and European nations.

Israel and the US have leveled harsh criticism at the Human Rights Council in recent years claiming it is leading an anti-Israel agenda and disregarding human rights violations in many countries around the world.

In 2009, the council approved the Goldstone Report which accused Israel of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

The council has 47 member states including countries that are themselves considered serious human rights violators such as China, Saudi Arabia and Cuba.

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