/ 16 October 2009

Israel: Embracing Goldstone report would reward terror

Israel may face further diplomatic embarrassment on Friday as the United Nations Human Rights Council votes on endorsing a report accusing the Jewish state and Hamas of war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

Israel has warned that embracing the report would reward terror and harm the peace process, and the United States has called the report ”flawed”.

However, support for the text from the Organisation of Islamic Conference, Arab and African states, as well as non-aligned nations could ensure the smooth adoption of a resolution endorsing the report.

The controversial report was produced by a fact-finding mission led by international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone to probe the 22-day conflict ending in January that Israel launched in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

It found that both Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the conflict.

The Goldstone report recommends referring its conclusions to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations within six months.

During the second day of its special session on the situation in the Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem, the Human Rights Council is set to decide if it should adopt a draft resolution that calls for the endorsement of ”the recommendations contained in the report … and calls upon all concerned parties including United Nations bodies, to ensure their implementation.”

Late on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the Human Rights Council to reject the resolution.

”Responsible nations have to vote against this decision that supports terror and harms peace,” Netanyahu told reporters after a meeting with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Even Goldstone himself, who was in Bern for a conference on Thursday, criticised the UN Council resolution for targetting only Israel and failing to include Hamas.

The UN resolution is peppered with references to ”recent Israeli violations of human rights in occupied east Jerusalem” but failed to mention Hamas even once.

”This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Isreal. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope that the council can modify the text,” he said in remarks published in Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

The issue was also raised by the United States, whose ambassador told the council on Thursday: ”The report looks at allegations on all sides of the conflict and [the Human Rights Council] must do the same.”

Nevertheless, speaking on behalf of the OIC, Pakistan said: ”The impact of actions of the two sides in terms of loss of lives and damage is uncomparable.”

”The mission has presented an objective, impartial and comprehensive report which has been welcomed, widely praised and appreciated by the UN member states and international civil society,” added the Pakistan envoy. — AFP