The United Nations General Assembly is debating a UN-sponsored
report which says Israel committed war crimes during its military
assault on the Gaza Strip.
Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes,
has already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which
sponsored the fact-finding commission.
The draft under
debate at the UN calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to
investigate accusations of human-rights violations during the 22-day
conflict in December and January.
resolution, if adopted, would call upon Ban Ki-moon, the UN
secretary-general, to take the report to the UN Security Council.
Forty-three speakers were scheduled to
take the floor during the debate called by the Arab UN group on
Wednesday, with the backing of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement
vote on the non-binding resolution was expected on Thursday.
of criticism in the report, compiled by a fact-finding panel led by
Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, 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, Israel said.
Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN in New York, said:
"The Palestinians put forward this resolution with several
co-sponsors knowing that they have the support to have it passed in
the General Assembly.
"This is really an attempt 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."
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the UN, said the report
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 terrorise the Palestinian
Mansour warned that efforts by Israel and its supporters to
discredit the UN report and its authors would not deter Arab states
from following up the recommendations "in all relevant international
forums, including the Security Council and the International
Criminal Court, until the realisation of justice with the
accountability of the perpetrators of these crimes and violations".
Gabriela Shalev, Israel's UN ambassador to the UN, hammered
Wednesday's debate as "yet another campaign against the victims of
terrorism, the people of Israel".
Goldstone report and this debate do not promote peace. They damage
any effort to revitalise negotiations in our region. They deny
Israel's right of self-defence," she told the assembly.
"From its inception in a one-sided mandate, the Gaza fact-finding
mission was a politicised body with predetermined conclusions," she
Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, held a special
meeting with foreign ambassadors to Israel on Tuesday to try to
convince their countries to vote against the report.
US House vote
US House of Representatives on Tuesday dismissed the report as being
"irredeemably biased" against Israel.
house voted in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on Barack
Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report.
Goldstone 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
offered several rejections and clarifications of the ideas expressed
in the resolution.
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.
Goldstone report accused Israel of using "disproportionate force"
and of deliberately targeting civilians.
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 months.
Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.