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Goldstone report: UN votes for probe into Gaza war crimes

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution Thursday calling for a probe into alleged war crimes by Israel and Hamas in last winter's fighting in Gaza. The resolution is based on the UN Human Rights Council's Goldstone report.

By Staff writer / November 6, 2009

New York

The United Nations General Assembly approved Thursday afternoon a resolution that calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate the accusations of war crimes in last winter's Gaza incursion as described in a UN-commissioned report.

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The resolution – approved 118-14, with much of the developing world and Arab countries in favor, and the US and Israel notably opposed – underscores the broad support for the Goldstone report, the investigation commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to look into alleged war crimes committed during the three-week-long Gaza war.

Forty-four countries, including France and Britain, abstained.

The Goldstone report, named after the South African jurist and former UN human rights investigator Richard Goldstone who headed the investigation, accused both sides of war crimes in last winter's fighting, but came down hardest on Israel. The fighting in December 2008 and January 2009 between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian group controlling Gaza, resulted in 14 Israeli deaths but more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, including many civilians.

The UN resolution calls on Israel and "the Palestinian side" to undertake investigations into the Goldstone allegations within three months, and asks UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to transmit the report to the Security Council.

In explaining to the Assembly the US's "no" vote, deputy US ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff said the US encourages "all parties to meet their obligations and pursue credible domestic investigations." But, he said, the US opposes "international supervision" of those investigations.

Moreover, Ambassador Wolff said the US could not support a report that is "deeply flawed – including its unbalanced focus in Israel … [and] its failure to assign appropriate responsibility to Hamas for its decision to base itself and its operations in heavily civilian-populated areas."