/ 16 October 2009

UN rights body endorses Gaza war crimes report

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed a Gaza report that accused both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas of committing war crimes in their December-January conflict.

In a special session, 25 of the body’s members voted in favour of the resolution that chastised Israel for failing to cooperate with the UN mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. Another six voted against and 11 abstained.

Both Israel and Hamas have rejected the charges in the Goldstone report, which is most critical of the Jewish state.

The controversial report was produced by a fact-finding mission led by 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 report calls for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the Israelis or Palestinians fail to investigate the alleged abuses themselves.

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

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. — Reuters