UN vote to endorse Goldstone report increases pressure on Israel
Israel's refusal to investigate allegations of war crimes in Gaza is increasingly putting it at odds with the international community – including allies such as the US.
The United Nations Human Rights Council's decision Friday to adopt the controversial Goldstone report on the Gaza war increases the pressure on Israel to conduct its own investigation into alleged war crimes.Skip to next paragraph
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The council voted 25-to-6, with 11 abstentions, to endorse the report, which calls for both Israel and Hamas to investigate its allegations within the next few months. If either side fails to comply – and Israel has so far refused to do so – the report calls for the UN Security Council to take up the matter and consider referring it to the UN's International Criminal Court.
The US is expected to exercise its veto to block such accusations from mushrooming into a full-fledged war-crimes trial. But Israelis are still likely to feel a chill abroad. Just a few weeks ago, human rights groups in the United Kingdom appealed to a British judge to arrest Defense Minister Ehud Barak on war-crimes accusations.
"Israel is on a collision course with the rest of the world, including Israel's friends," says Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. "There's just no way when there's a global consensus to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that Israel can dig in its heels."
Palestinians welcome the report
Headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, the UN inquiry accused Israel of targeting Palestinian noncombatants and systematically going after civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. It also condemns Hamas for firing some 8,000 rockets and mortars at southern Israeli towns in the eight years leading up to the war.
But the bulk of the criticism is aimed Israel, which refused to cooperate with the inquiry on the grounds that it would be biased and denied entry to investigators. Israel has consistently insisted that it did its utmost to avoid civilian casualties while fighting an enemy embedded in urban areas.
Palestinians welcomed the vote Friday.
"The Palestinian government welcomes the endorsement on the Goldstone report and thanks the friendly countries which voted in favor of the report," said Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nono, promising that his organization's government in Gaza would investigate the allegations. "We hope that the vote may be the beginning of the prosecution of the leaders of the occupation."
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