The UN General Assembly plans to debate as early as next week a UN report accusing Israel and Hamas militants of war crimes during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip, diplomats said.
Libya’s Deputy UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said Arab representatives at the United Nations had requested a meeting of the 192-nation assembly on Nov. 4 to discuss the report, which was prepared by a fact-finding commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.
The report lambasted both sides in the January-December war, which killed up to 1387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but was harsher toward Israel. It gave Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants six months to mount credible investigations or face possible prosecution at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Both Israel and Hamas denied committing any war crimes. Israel has criticized the report as unbalanced and says the 47-nation Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, is biased against the Jewish state.
Jean-Victor Nkol, spokesperson for the Libyan president of the General Assembly, Ali Treki, said the body would make a final decision next week on when to debate the Goldstone report.
Western diplomats expressed concern that an assembly session on the report would inevitably turn into what one envoy described as “yet another Israel-bashing session.”
Israel will not boycott the meeting, but Ambassador Danny Carmon, deputy head of Israel’s UN mission, made clear he saw no point in discussing the report in New York.
“The Goldstone report is a very flawed, one-sided and unjust report that should be dealt with specifically (at the Human Rights Council) in Geneva,” Carmon told Reuters.
Action on Goldstone report?
Dabbashi said Arab delegations would draft a General Assembly resolution to be voted on during the assembly meeting. It would urge the UN Security Council, which has taken no action on the Goldstone report, to comply with the recommendations made by the fact-finding commission.
“Certainly there will be a recommendation to ask the Security Council to deal with the recommendations and take the necessary steps,” he said. “Certainly the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) will be asked to present reports on the implementation of the recommendations.”
The Goldstone report called on the Security Council to refer the matter of the Gaza war to the International Criminal Court if either Israel or Hamas failed to investigate their actions in the conflict within six months.
Resolutions of the General Assembly, unlike those of the 15-nation Security Council, are nonbinding. But UN diplomats say such a resolution would intensify pressure on Israel to launch a full investigation into the actions of its army during the war.
Hoping to counter the criticism, Israel intends to review the internal inquiries that cleared its armed forces of serious wrong doing, a political source told Reuters in Jerusalem.
Western diplomats on the Security Council say that none of the five veto-wielding permanent members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States want the council to do anything with the Goldstone report and have discouraged Libya in its efforts to try to get it onto the council’s agenda.