UN rights chief backs Goldstone report on Gaza
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay endorsed the Goldstone report on alleged war crimes in Gaza at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Oct. 15. Pillay stated that steps to hold war criminals accountable "are not obstacles to peace, but rather the preconditions on which trust and, ultimately, a durable peace can be built."
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) envoy Ibrahim Khreisheh spoke in support of the report prepared by former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone on Israel's three-week assault on the Gaza Strip over the winter. Goldstone was asked by the UN to lead an independent, international investigation into the war, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, along with 13 Israelis. His 575-page report alleges that both Israel and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government initially capitulated to US pressure, moving to defer a motion in the Human Rights Council to endorse the report. After coming under heavy criticism from his own people, Abbas returned the motion to the Council, and even added a condemnation of Israeli policy in occupied East Jerusalem to the resolution.
Observers say that of the 47 nations on the Council, 16 are likely to vote to endorse the report—meaning that rights groups need to find eight more supportive votes.
Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council Oct. 14, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki called for the world to hold Israel accountable for its "savage attack" on Gaza. "The credibility and foundations of international human rights and humanitarian law as well as of the UN as a whole is at stake," he said.
Goldstone's report calls on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to conduct their own thorough, independent and credible investigations into the charges. If they fail to do so, the report calls for international bodies to follow up. The report recommends that its conclusions be forwarded to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if Israel and Palestinian authorities fail to carry out credible investigations within six months.
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