UN General Assembly calls for credible probes into alleged war crimes in Gaza

November 5, 2009 11:33 pm 

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 6 — The UN General Assembly (GA) Thursday adopted a resolution to call upon both Israel and Palestine to conduct "independent and credible" investigations of the alleged war crimes during the 22-day Gaza conflict which broke out on Dec. 27, 2008.

The resolution was adopted with 114 voting in favor, 18 against and 44 abstentions.

The new resolution, adopted by the 192-nation General Assembly, urged Israel and Palestine to launch the investigations that "are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards" within a period of three months.

The president of the 64th GA session, Ali Treki, told reporters after the adoption of the new resolution that "this is an important declaration against impunity."

"It is a call for justice and accountability," he said. " Without justice, there can be no progress toward peace. Human beings should be treated as human beings, regardless of his or her religion or nationality."

The resolution was adopted after more than 40 countries, including Israel, took the floor at the two-day plenary General Assembly session on the Goldstone report, which accused both Israel and Hamas militants of war crimes in the Gaza conflict, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed.

Representatives of such countries as Albania, Argentina and Mexico spoke after the vote, saying that voted in favor of the draft resolution on the basis of the humanitarian law and the move to fight against impunity.

At the same time, Israel and the United States, who were among the 18 countries to vote against the draft resolution, spoke against the Goldstone report and the draft itself. Israel said that the draft "mocked the reality that a democratic country such as Israel facing the terrorist threats."

"We do not think it appropriate to endorse the (Goldstone) report at this time," said the U.S. representative, who described the report as being "deeply flawed."

After opening the plenary session on Wednesday, Treki said, " Let us be clear what is at stake here — the human rights of nearly 2 million civilians are at stake. Without justice, there can be no progress towards peace. Let us commit together — to leave all politics and selectivity at the door and take up the cause of justice based on one universal set of rules — we should protect the rights of the victims."

Treki, a veteran Libyan diplomat, has received a letter from the UN Human Rights Council transmitting the report of the mission, which was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The four-member investigative team found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council, when it took up the report two weeks ago, had strongly condemned a host of Israeli measures in the occupied Palestinian territory and called on both sides to implement the mission's recommendations.

The resolution expressed the GA's appreciation to the panel led by Goldstone, officially known as the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, "for its comprehensive report."

The resolution also asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit the Goldstone report to the UN Security Council, and report to the Genreal Assembly "within a period of three months, on the implementation of the present resolution, with a view to consider further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies, including the Security Council."

The resolution stressed "the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to prevent impunity, ensure justice, deter further violations and promote peace."

The resolution condemned "all targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure and institutions, including United Nations facilities."

The General Assembly is convinced that "achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the question of Palestine, the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is imperative for the attainment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and stability in the Middle East," the resolution said.

At the same time, the resolution also recommended to the government of Switzerland, "in its capacity as depositary of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to undertake necessary steps as soon as possible to convene a Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem." (PNA/xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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