The United Nations General Assembly has voted
in favour of resolution endorsing a UN-sponsored report into war
crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza.
The Goldstone report, which accuses
both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, was endorsed by the assembly on
Thursday by a margin of 114 to 18, after two days of debate.
member-nations abstained from voting.
The report, which was compiled by a
panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, had already
been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the
The report calls on both Israel
and the Palestinians to investigate within three months accusations
of human-rights violations during the 22-day conflict in December
Most of the criticism in the Goldstone
report was directed towards Israel's conduct during the offensive,
in which human rights organisations say about 1,400 Palestinians -
many of them women and children - were killed.
Thirteen Israelis, including three
civilians, were killed over the course of the war.
The report concluded that Israel used
disproportionate force in the war, deliberately targeting Gaza
civilians, using them as human shields, and destroying civilian
Apart from Israel and the United
States, a number of European countries including Italy, the
Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic, voted against the
Britain and France were among EU
member nations who abstained.
Most developing countries voted in
favour of endorsing the report.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN
observer called it "an important night in the history of the General
Assembly and the history of fighting against impunity and seeking
Earlier, speaking ahead of the final
UN vote, he said Goldstone report had concluded that the Israeli
military onslaught "was planned in all of its phases as a
deliberately disproportionate and systematic attack aimed at
punishing, humiliating and terrorising the Palestinian civilian
But Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy
ambassador to the UN, told the assembly that the resolution
"endorses and legitimises a deeply flawed, one-sided and prejudiced
report of the discredited Human Rights Council and its politicised
work that bends both fact and law".
Alejandro Wolff, the US deputy
ambasssador to the UN, also accused the the resolution of being
flawed, saying that it failed to name Hamas, the Palestinian group
that has de facto control of Gaza.
The non-binding resolution passed on
Thursday by the General Assembly asks Ban Ki-moon, the UN
secretary-general, to pass the report to the UN Security Council.
However, diplomats have said that the
five permanent members of the 15-member Security Council have
signalled that they are opposed to council involvement - meaning
that it is unlikely that the 15-nation body would take action.
The debate at the General Assembly,
which began on Wednesday, was called for by the Arab UN group, with
the backing of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey,
reporting from the UN in New York ahead of Thursday's vote, said the
debate represented a push to keep the Goldstone report alive.
"The resolution endorses the report
and also attempts to force it upon the Security Council, by getting
the secretary-general involved," she said.
US House vote
On Tuesday the US House of
Representatives dismissed the Goldstone report as being
"irredeemably biased" against Israel.
The house voted in favour of a
non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to
maintain his opposition to the report.
Richard Goldstone himself last week
sent a letter to the US House of Representatives saying that the
text of the US resolution had "factual inaccuracies and instances
where information and statements are taken grossly out of context".
He offered several rejections and
clarifications of the ideas expressed in the resolution.
In response to Goldstone's criticism,
three parts of the resolution were amended on Tuesday to clarify
that Goldstone had sought an expansion to the commission's mandate
so that his team could investigate claims that Hamas had violated
international law during the Gaza war.
The report called for cases to be
referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not
investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six
Hamas has agreed
to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.