UN urges further Gaza war inquiry from Israel, Palestinians
Foreign Ministry official says Israel will continue to cooperate with the UN investigation.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted on Friday a new resolution calling on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to investigate the Gaza Strip war in the winter of 2009, even though Israel has submitted its report and the PA has launched its independent inquiry.
The 192-nation assembly voted 98-7, with 31 abstentions, to pass an Arab-backed resolution that called on Israel and the PA to conduct separate investigations that are "independent, credible and in conformity with international standards," into charges raised in a U.N. report last September by a panel headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.
The Foreign Ministry Bureau issued a statement in response to the UN vote saying that since the end of the Gaza offensive in December 2008, Israel has issued two comprehensive reports on its actions during the war.
A Foreign ministry official said that Israel will continue to cooperate with its allies and the UN regarding the on going investigation, Israel Radio reported.
The United States and Israel were among those who voted against the resolution.
More than 50 UN members were absent in the vote.
Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said the PA "cannot genuinely address the conflict between the State of Israel and the Hamas terrorist entity."
"Who exactly is the 'Palestinian side' that is responsible to undertake investigations that are independent, credible, and conform to international standards?" Shalev said.
"Can the Palestinian Authority conduct an investigation in Gaza from which it was violently ousted in a bloody coup?" she added.
"Or, in contrast, do we really believe that the terrorist Hamas organization will investigate its use of human shields, its appalling methods of targeting civilians, and its cynical use of schools, hospitals, and mosques as weapons of terror?" she said.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Alejandro Wolff, told the assembly that he voted against the resolution because it reflected similar problems in previous resolutions by failing to point out Hamas' responsibility in the Gaza conflict. Hamas is the sole authority in Gaza after it ousted the PA from the territory.
Wolff noted that Israel had already submitted its investigation of the Gaza conflict.
"Our goal in this regard is to have a domestic authority to investigate and to carry out a thorough, independent and credible investigation of allegations" of violations of human rights in Gaza, Wolff said, referring to failure to ask Hamas to do its own investigation.
The assembly last November called for Israel and the PA to investigate and Friday's resolution repeated that call. Israel submitted its investigative report in January and the PA said it had launched its own investigation.
The resolution asked for each side to investigate "the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law" and to ensure accountability and justice as a result of the conflict.
The call by the General Assembly for the individual reports had its seeds in the Goldstone Report which was carried out under the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In that report, former South African Judge Richard Goldstone led a four-member panel which found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The report detailed how the December 2008 - January 2009 conflict killed 1,400 Palestinians and nine Israelis. It detailed also the extensive destruction in Gaza.
Israel and the United States strongly rejected the Goldstone report, calling it unacceptable and biased. The two countries repeated their objections on Friday.
Earlier in February, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the Israeli report as one based on an investigative system comparable to any used by democratic nations like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.
In his report, Ban said the Israeli investigators had followed on every allegation "regardless of whether the source was neutral,hostile or friendly."
The investigators had probed 150 separate incidents, including 36 criminal investigations.
Ban at the time said however that some of the Israeli investigations were still underway.