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.
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In earlier testimony, the Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, characterized the Assembly's vote as a "test" of the international community's willingness to hold Israel accountable for its military actions against the Palestinian people.Skip to next paragraph
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"We take very seriously the allegations contained in the Goldstone report regarding possible Palestinian violations," Mr. Mansour said, adding that his side was committed "to the pursuit of domestic legal investigations." But he nonetheless rejected "any equation of the occupying power's aggression and crimes with actions committed in response by the Palestinian side."
Israel's position has been that the Gaza offensive was carried out in self-defense to protect Israeli civilians from Hamas's firing of rockets into Israeli territory. Israel's UN ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, said the Goldstone report ignored Hamas's "terror activity" as well as "the complexity of military challenges in fighting terrorists in urban warfare."
Any legitimacy granted the Goldstone report, she added, would in essence deny Israel "the right to defend ourselves."
UN diplomats said Israel has nothing to fear from the resolution's call for the report to be sent to the Security Council, since any action there is unlikely. The widespread assumption is that the US, as one of five permanent council members and Israel's principal ally, would veto any attempt to act on the report in the council. But others said none of the council's five permanent members would favor such action either, with China mindful of recent accusations of human-rights violations in Tibet and Russia wary of potential application to its operations in Chechnya.
The US's Wolff said the US remains "deeply concerned" about the human suffering on both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he insisted that the best way to end that suffering is "to advance the cause of peace – and do nothing to hinder it," suggesting that any further international action on the Goldstone report would do just that.
But other countries, including Brazil, said that holding countries accountable for their military actions and demanding respect for international law could only enhance chances for peace.
As Goldstone report debate rages, more Israelis call for investigation
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