Israel lobbies UN over war-crimes report

Israel’s foreign minister has urged United Nations chief Ban-Ki-moon not to send the Goldstone report on Gaza war crimes to the Security Council or the General Assembly, his office said on Friday.

During a telephone conversation on Thursday night, Avigdor Lieberman also harshly criticised Cuba, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, which are among the 25 countries that voted in favour of a resolution endorsing the Goldstone report.

”Lieberman told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he hopes he will not move the Human Rights Council decision on the Goldstone report to the Security Council or the General Assembly,” the minister’s office said in a statement.

”Lieberman told Ban that a distorted international reality has developed where in every international forum there is an automatic majority of states far removed from concerns for human rights, such as Cuba, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, that transform the international system to one characterised by hypocrisy and which operates according to prejudice.”

”We should think of how to fix the situation in order to create a reliable and balanced international system,” Lieberman told Ban, according to the minister’s office.

Israel called the endorsement of the report a ”diplomatic farce” that harms Middle East peace efforts.

Richard Goldstone, who led a fact-finding mission, concluded that both Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the 22-day military offensive that Israel launched on December 27 2008 in response to rocket fire from the enclave.

When the fighting ended, 1 400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed.

Goldstone recommended that the conclusions of the report be forwarded to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations into the conflict within six months.

Israel has launched a major PR offensive against the Goldstone report while at the same time campaigning to amend international laws of war to reflect what it says is the global ”spread of terrorism”. — Sapa-AFP

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