Israel on Friday rejected a United Nations General Assembly resolution urging an investigation into a report saying war crimes were committed in Gaza, and condemned the world body vote as "completely detached from realities".
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said in response to Thursday's vote that Israel "maintains the right to self-defense", and would "continue to act to protect the lives of its citizens from the threat of international terrorism".
The resolution, endorsing a report on the Gaza war commissioned by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, was nonbinding and seen as unlikely to force either Israel or Islamist Hamas rulers in Gaza to investigate the findings.
But Israel has responded with outrage to the findings issued in September by a panel led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, seeing the document as an Arab bid to undermine the reputations of its military and political leaders.
"Israel rejects the resolution of the U.N. General Assembly, which is completely detached from realities on the ground that Israel must face," the Foreign Ministry statement issued by spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
Palmor also maintained that Israel had "demonstrated higher military and moral standards than each and every one of this resolution's instigators", during the war in December in which more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
The 192-member General Assembly adopted the resolution Thursday by a vote of 114-18, with others absent or abstaining. The resolution calls on the Security Council to act if either side fails to launch credible investigations within three months.
The report on the Gaza war was drafted by an expert UN panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, and concluded that both Israel and Palestinian militants committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
The harshly worded UN draft resolution, composed by Arab member states, has not been softened despite U.S. and European efforts.
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, told Haaretz before the vote that she did not plan to take part. "I won't lend a hand to a debate whose conclusions are predetermined. It was a predictable Arab game."
However, Israel and the United States were among those voting against the resolution. A total of 44 countries abstained.
The resolution enjoyed wide support among the Non-Aligned Movement bloc and the Arab bloc. These states comprise an automatic majority of 120 votes.
The draft resolution includes a demand for the Israeli government to carry out an "independent and credible" internal investigation of its own conduct during Israel's 3-week offensive in Gaza, which left over 1,000 Palestinians dead.
Hamas is not mentioned by name in the UN draft resolution. Instead, it calls on the "Palestinian side" to carry out an investigation into the Goldstone report findings that relate to Palestinians.
The draft resolution also includes a recommendation to convene the signatories of the fourth Geneva Convention treaty for an emergency session to discuss Israel's violations of the treaty.
Apart from Israel and the United States, a number of European countries including Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic voted against the resolution. But the European Union was split, with others including Britain and France abstaining. Most developing countries voted in favor.
There is no veto in UN General Assembly votes, but the assembly's resolutions are non-binding. However, resolutions adopted by the General Assembly grant legitimacy to Security Council initiatives. But the five permanent members of the Security Council have the power to veto any resolution put up for a vote. Thus, any Arab initiative for an extreme resolution against Israel, such as the submission of the Goldstone report to the International Criminal Court, will likely be torpedoed by the veto-wielding U.S.
If the matter is put up for a Security Council vote, there is also the possibility that the U.S. and its allies - Britain or France, will block an official resolution, and instead issue a presidential statement or a press release.
An Israel delegate denounced the adoption of the resolution as a "mockery of reality" after Israel seized a vessel packed with weapons believed to have been sent by Iran to Hezbollah.
Israel's Deputy Ambassador Daniel Carmon told the assembly the resolution "endorses and legitimizes a deeply flawed, one-sided and prejudiced report of the discredited Human Rights Council and its politicized work that bends both fact and law."
U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the resolution was flawed in several respects, including its failure to name the Hamas militant movement that rules Gaza. He also said a demand for international supervision of any Israeli and Palestinian investigations was "unhelpful."
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