Israel has complained that it is getting unfair treatment at the United Nations amid allegations that it committed war crimes against the Palestinians.
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke on the telephone with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and accused the world body of "prejudice" and "hypocrisy." He was referring to a resolution by the U.N. Human Rights Council last week which approved the Goldstone Report, accusing the Jewish state of war crimes during the Gaza conflict last December and January.
According to a statement from Lieberman's office, he said U.N. forums give an automatic anti-Israel majority to countries with poor human rights records such as Cuba, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He said this creates a "distorted reality" and the U.N. must take a more balanced approach.
Avraham Tzion, an Israeli expert in international law, says the U.N. has a double standard.
"I think it's deplorable and outrageous because those who have no notion of human rights are the ones who are judging Israel," he said. "Can you imagine that Saudi Arabia voted for the report, and other countries, take for example Russia which has [done] outrageous things in Chechnya? They are the ones who think we should be investigated."
The Goldstone Report accuses Israel of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians and using excessive force in heavily-populated areas. When the fighting ended, 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed.
The report also accuses the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, of committing war crimes by firing rockets at Israel. The report was overseen by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, a former war crimes prosecutor in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Goldstone has urged Israel to hold an independent investigation of the Gaza offensive.
However, Araham Tzion says the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, got a bad rap in the report.
"When you have terrorists using civilians as human shields and the IDF has to pinpoint the terrorists out of these people, it's a very difficult task; and I think we did all we could in order to bring this into a situation which is tolerable," he said.
Foreign Minister Lieberman urged Ban Ki-moon not to send the Goldstone Report to the U.N. Security Council, which could refer it to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Lieberman warned that any attempt to heed Palestinian calls for war crimes trials against Israeli officials would seriously harm international efforts to revive Middle East peace talks. He said the Palestinians cannot "negotiate with Israel in the local arena and fight against Israel in the global arena."