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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UN General Assembly debates Israel war crimes

Tue, 27 Oct 2009 reported by PressTV

The UN General Assembly sets a date for debating Israeli war crimes in Gaza, paving the way for a possible Security Council inquiry into the issue.

An Arab League diplomat said on Monday that Richard Goldstone's UN report on the conflict in Gaza would be discussed at the Assembly on November 4th with the aim of passing a resolution approving the report and then requesting a formal debate at the Security Council, which has the power to open a war crimes prosecution against senior Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court.

The US --Israel's staunchest ally-- however, is expected to veto any call for ICC action against Israeli officials. Washington has vetoed several anti-Israeli revolutions.

The UN General Assembly's decision to debate Israeli war crimes during Gaza war came after the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the report, which accuses the Israeli army of deliberately killing Palestinian civilians and using disproportionate force during the three-week Gaza war, despite efforts by Israeli officials to block the motion.

The report calls for the prosecution of senior Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Tel Aviv fails to launch its own investigations into the Gaza war under international scrutiny within six months. Tel Aviv has condemned the report, claiming it was one-sided and biased against Israel.

According to UN figures, more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed and many others wounded during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" in which internationally banned white phosphorous bombs were used by Israeli forces.

Friday, October 16, 2009

UNHR Chief Endorses Goldstone Gaza Report, Despite Israeli Efforts

16/10/2009 | Almanar

The UN human rights chief has endorsed the Goldstone report on Israel's war on Gaza, and called for "impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations" into the “war crimes.”

Navi Pillay said Israeli and Palestinian leaders should investigate the reported allegations to help “rebuild trust and support peace in the region.”
She said all sides of the Middle East conflict were continuing to violate international human rights and humanitarian law, and raised concern that transgressors remain unpunished. "A culture of impunity continues to prevail in the occupied territories and in Israel," Pillay said during the UN Human Rights Council's special debate session on the Goldstone report on Thursday.

The Geneva debate comes a day after the UN Security Council discussed the report, during which the Palestinian Authority demanded that Israel be punished for war crimes. In the report released last month, investigators led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas of war crimes in Gaza, but were overall more critical of Israel than Hamas.

The Palestinian Authority had initially agreed to defer a vote on the UN-sanctioned report but later backtracked under heavy criticism. The Palestinians in a draft resolution circulated for the human rights council debate, called on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations. It "strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites" and calls on Israel to stop digging and excavation work around the Al-Aqsa mosque as well as other Islamic and Christian religious sites.

In her speech, Pillay cited concern about the restrictions on Palestinians wishing to enter Al-Aqsa and expressed "dismay" about the Israeli blockade of Gaza that she said "severely undermines the rights and welfare of the population there".
Israel rejected the charges saying the resolution – drafted by the Palestinians with Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, on behalf of non-aligned, African, Islamic and Arab nations – threatened “peace efforts”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spent much of the past few days on the matter, failed to convince “his colleagues”, mostly in Europe, to oppose the adoption of the report. Netanyahu held a series of meetings to assess the Goldstone Report and also had intensive telephone conversations with senior figures in Europe in an effort to block the report. He said on Thursday that his country would not be able to take "risks for peace" if it could not defend itself from attacks on its “citizens”. "It's important for the principle countries, outside of this automatic majority of the United Nations, to say we are not taking part in this."We know we should act otherwise," he said.

Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, said the adoption by the council of the proposed resolution would be a "reward for terror and will send a clear message to terrorists everywhere". "They will clearly hear that this new form of warfare, as used by Hamas in Gaza, will offer immunity as countries will be prevented from waging effective responses."This strategy will be repeated in other places, against other countries fighting terror." The Goldstone report recommended that its conclusions be sent on to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not hold their own credible investigations into allegations of war crimes within six months.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NAM wants Israel to be responsible for Gaza crimes

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 03:17:43 GMT

115 countries of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) have called on the UN Security Council to hold Israel responsible for atrocities committed in Gaza during its offensive.

NAM Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz asked the Security Council on Wednesday to "seriously consider and act upon the recommendations" of the UN Fact Finding Mission headed by Richard Goldstone.

The move comes while the US Administration was planning to stall efforts by the countries to condemn Israel. Washington says the war crime charges in the Goldstone report, should be dealt with in the Human Rights Council, not the Security Council. The Security Council decided to review the issue in its Wednesday meeting despite the US pressure.

However, the attempts by Washington to stall the process has sparkled outrage by right groups.
"That President Obama is receiving the Noble Peace prize after his failure to speak out during the Gaza war, and after his administration's protection of a state that has committed war crimes, is an abomination," Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, told Inter Press Service.

"Sadly, its conduct at the Human Rights Council [in Geneva] where it called the Goldstone report deeply flawed shows that it will again do all in its power to try and bury any investigation of Israel for war crimes," he added. Ratner warned that such moves would embolden Israel to continue its atrocities. The failure to refer the Gaza matter to the ICC (International Criminal Court) undercuts any claim that the law is applied equally to Israel and the Palestinians.