Israel Rejects UN War Crimes Resolution
Israel Rejects UN War Crimes Resolution

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Israel has responded angrily to a United Nations resolution that accuses the Jewish state of war crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. 

Israel says the United Nations General Assembly is "completely detached from reality," after it endorsed the Goldstone Report accusing the Jewish state of war crimes during the Gaza conflict last December and January. The report also accuses the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza of war crimes, but the international focus has been on Israel.

The resolution was approved by 114 countries with 18 opposed and 44 abstentions. It calls on both Israel and Hamas to open credible investigations into the report's charges within three months.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor says the investigation by the U.N.-appointed Goldstone Commission was one-sided and biased from the beginning.

"The mandate of the commission already pre-establishes Israel's guilt; it says clearly that Israel is guilty of massive human rights violations and a number of crimes that are already listed in a mandate," said Palmor.

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Israel says it will not open an investigation because that would be tantamount to acknowledging guilt and accepting the legitimacy of the Goldstone Commission.

"The commission was really a farce of a human rights fact-finding commission; it wasn't a real effort to seek the truth," he said.

Israel launched its offensive against Gaza's militant Hamas rulers in an attempt to halt years of rocket fire at Israeli towns. The fighting killed 13 Israelis and nearly 1,400 Palestinians, many of them civilians.

The resolution endorses a report by an expert panel chaired by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The report concluded that both Israel and Palestinian militants committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza war.

If Israel does not cooperate, the Goldstone Report could be handed over to the U.N. Security Council which could pass it on to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But Israel hopes that the United States, which holds a veto in the Security Council, will block any attempt to put Israeli officials on trial for war crimes.