Goldstone Attacks UN Resolution On His Gaza War Report
Richard Goldstone, the South African who headed a United Nations investigation into the Gaza war, slammed the UN Human Rights Council's endorsement of his commission's report on Friday, Haaretz reports.
Goldstone reportedly disagreed with the language of the UN resolution, which condemns Israel for its actions in Gaza but fails to criticize Hamas. Goldstone's report attacked the actions of both the Israeli army and Hamas.
Goldstone told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps before the vote that the wording of the resolution was unfortunate because it included only censure of Israel. He voiced hope that the Human Rights Council would alter the wording of the draft.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Goldstone as saying, "There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report."
Israel also slammed the UN endorsement on Friday, calling it "unjust," Haaretz reports.
"Israel will continue to exercise its right to self defense and to preserve the security of its citizens...Israel believes that the decision harms efforts to protect human rights in accordance with international law and hinders efforts to promote the peace process as well as encouraging terror organizations around the world," according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
Hamas, meanwhile, called the decision a "victory for the Palestinian victims," the Jerusalem Post reports.
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip expressed hope that "the vote on the report will serve as the basis for prosecuting Israeli war criminals."
Moussa Abu Marzuk, a top Damascus-based Hamas leader thanked the UN Human Rights Council for endorsing the Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead, and said the resolution adopted on Friday benefits all the Palestinian people.
Read more on the UN's endorsement from the AP:
GENEVA - The U.N. Human Rights Council voted Friday to endorse a report on last winter's Gaza conflict that calls on Israel and authorities in Gaza to carry out credible investigations into alleged abuses -- or face possible referral to international war crimes prosecutors.
The decision means that Israel could find itself facing a request at the U.N. Security Council to refer the case to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague -- whose jurisdiction Israel does not accept.
Although a U.S. veto at the Security Council would be virtually assured, Friday's decision will keep attention on the report, compiled by an expert panel chaired by respected South African jurist Richard Goldstone.
Israel bitterly denounced Friday's decision, with officials arguing that continuing the course of the Goldstone report would embolden terror groups around the world -- with nations reluctant to fight them for fear of facing the same fate as Israel.
The 575-page report concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeted civilians, used Palestinians as human shields and destroyed civilian infrastructure during its Dec. 27-Jan. 18 campaign to root out Palestinian rocket squads.
It also accused Palestinian armed groups including Hamas -- which controls Gaza -- of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through rocket attacks on southern Israel. In the years leading up to the conflict Israel absorbed thousands of rocket attacks, which caused only a handful of fatalities but badly disrupted life in the area neighboring Gaza. During the campaign 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
The report, commissioned earlier this year by the U.N. Human Rights Council, recommends that the 15-member Security Council require both sides in the conflict to show within six months that they are carrying out independent and impartial investigations into alleged abuses. If they are not, the matter should then be referred to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, the report says.
Friday's decision to endorse this approach followed two days of debate. The Palestinian-backed resolution passed 25-6, with mostly developing countries in favor and the United States and five European countries -- Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia and Ukraine -- opposing.
Eleven mostly European and African countries abstained, while Britain, France and three other members of the 47-nation body declined to vote. Russia and China, two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, were among those voting yes.
"The clock on the report starts now," said Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority's U.N. ambassador in Geneva.
In order to be adopted, a U.N. Security Council resolution must get nine yes votes, and no veto by a permanent member. The U.S. is likely to use its veto to block any call to get the International Criminal Court involved in the dispute or to take action against Israel.
Officials from the Palestinian Authority visited the International Criminal Court on Friday to present legal arguments in favor of giving the court legal authority over territory it controls -- something only sovereign nations are allowed to do. The Palestinian Authority is technically an autonomous entity, not a state.
Palestinians hope that, if the court accepts its request, court prosecutor Moreno Ocampo would then have jurisdiction to launch an investigation into war crimes committed by both sides during the Gaza conflict even without an order from the Security Council.
Israel does not accept the court's jurisdiction.
Ocampo had no comment Friday.
In Ramallah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed Friday's vote.
"What is important now is to translate words into deeds in order to protect our people in the future from any new aggression," Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.
Israel and the U.S. called the Goldstone report "flawed" because it ignored Israel's right to defend its people from Palestinian rocket fire. They warned that the vote could jeopardize Middle East peace prospects.
Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also said endorsing the report could have far-reaching consequences.
"Whoever votes in favor of endorsing the report must understand that next time it will be the soldiers and officers of NATO in Afghanistan, and then Russian soldiers and officers in Chechnya," Lieberman said late Thursday.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the resolution "provides encouragement for terrorist organizations worldwide and undermines global peace."
U.S. diplomat Douglas M. Griffiths told the council that Washington was disappointed with the outcome of the vote.
"We're focused on moving forward in the peace process and we feel that this is a distraction from that," Griffiths told The Associated Press.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged both sides earlier this week "to carry out impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations into reported violations of human rights and humanitarian law."
Associated Press Writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Aron Heller in Jerusalem and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.