U.K., France want Israel, PA to probe Goldstone war crimes claims
Joint initiative calls on Israel, Palestinians to independently probe Gaza war crimes allegations.
A joint French-British UN initiative would call on Israel and the Palestinians to hold immediate, independent investigations into war crimes allegations stemming from the war in Gaza, as part of a bid to send the Goldstone report back to Geneva and out of the hands of the Security Council or the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
The proposal comes before the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled Wednesday to deliberate on the Goldstone report on the war in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
A source at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the details of the initiative during a telephone conversation.
Netanyahu asked the French President to take action among European Union partners in an effort to form collective opposition to any resolution at the UN on the Goldstone report.
The initiative is a list of "red lines" which was adopted by the 27 members of the European Union. Its main points:
1. A resolution brought for the approval of the General Assembly will not include operational steps, like taking the matter to the Security Council or the International Court of Justice.
2. The resolution would call on Israel and the Palestinians to embark on an independent investigation into the events of Operation Cast Lead, and the allegations of war crimes.
3. The handling of the Goldstone report will return to the Human Rights Council, the UN body in Geneva. The parties will have to report to the council on the findings of their investigations in a few months.
According to the Foreign Ministry source, the document was delivered yesterday by the British and French permanent representatives at the UN to the Palestinian Authority delegation at the international body, as well as the representatives of Arab states, and the members of the Security Council.
Arab representatives at the UN are expected to complete Tuesday the first draft of a resolution that will be brought to the General Assembly for a vote.
The French and British has emphasized in their exchanges with the Arab representatives that if the "red lines" are not part of the resolution being prepared, the European Union will abstain, and may even vote against it - and expects that much of the international community will too.
"If you agree to go for a simple resolution which calls on Israel to carry out an investigation you will receive full support," a source familiar with the proposal said. "However, if you attempt to go further there will be at least 60 abstentions and only 120 votes in support."
Any resolution the Palestinians put forth will receive a large majority, but there is great importance to the weight of EU votes, and other countries who will vote in line with the EU.
Assessments in Israel hold that there is little chance the Palestinians will agree to the Franco-British proposal and Jerusalem wants any resolution torpedoed.