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UN Council Adopts Goldstone Report

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The 47-member UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution on the so-called "Goldstone report", which accuses both Israel and Hamas militants of war crimes committed during the 22-day Gaza conflict last December and January. The resolution was passed by a vote of 25 in favor. The six countries that voted against it include the United States and several European countries.

The resolution tabled by the Palestinians endorses the 575-page report of the Goldstone fact-finding mission and calls for it to be sent to the UN General Assembly for its urgent consideration.

The report recommends both Israel and Hamas conduct investigations into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. And, if they fail to do so within six months, it says the UN Security Council should turn the matter over to the International Criminal Court.

Just two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council deferred a vote on the controversial Goldstone Report on Gaza until its next session in March. But, under intense domestic criticism, the Palestinians decided to reopen the issue.

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The United States, which had engineered the deferral of the resolution, expressed its disappointment at the outcome of the session. In casting his vote against the resolution, US envoy, Douglas Griffiths, calls the report unbalanced and unfair to Israel.

"This resolution goes far beyond even the initial scope of the Goldstone Report into a discussion of elements that should be resolved in the context of permanent status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," said Griffiths.

Griffiths is referring to the body of the resolution, which strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites.

"Moreover, we reiterate that the report and this resolution failed to deal adequately with the asymmetric nature of this conflict," he said. "While Justice Goldstone acknowledged Hamas' crimes, in examining Israel's response sufficient weight was not given to the difficulties faced in fighting this kind of enemy in this environment."

Israeli Ambassador, Leshno Yaar, calls the resolution imbalanced and misused. He notes the resolution makes no mention of the rockets launched on Israel by the Palestinians, but only makes allegations against Israel.

"What do I tell Israelis about this special session? How to explain that politics, domestic agendas and in some cases, sheer cynicism have won out," asked Yaar. "That the real issues facing Israel's decision makers-how to move forward and try to make peace while protecting the people of Israel from real and present dangers-just do not interest a majority of the members of this Council."

The Israeli ambassador accuses the Council and the report it endorses of offering no solution to fighting against terrorism for democracies that are forced to act in self-defense. He warns the peace process with the Palestinians will be harmed if the United Nations pursues the report.