10/26/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL – UN – US
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Goldstone challenges US over Gaza crimes, China sides with Israel

For South African jurist, “the overwhelmingly majority of critics have not read the report” and “the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report”. China reassures Israel that the report will not be discussed in the Security Council.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Richard Goldstone, the jurist who authored a UN report accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its war on Gaza, has challenged the US. “I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are. I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are,” Goldstone said.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Goldstone lamented Washington’s ambiguous position, that on the one hand, an inquiry is important for Israel and Gaza, and that on the other the report is flawed.

Both sides have accused the South African jurist of bias. In his defence, Goldstone said, “many of the critics—the overwhelmingly majority of critics—have not read the report” and “the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report”.

On 16 October, the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva approved by a majority of 25 votes out of 47 a resolution to send the Goldstone report to the UN Security Council. But the South African former judge is pessimistic about how his report will fare at the United Nations.

A US veto at the Security Council is all it would take to kill it. However, it might never get to that since China has refused to have the report even discussed in the Council.

After voting in favour of the resolution in Geneva, Beijing has in fact reassured Jerusalem that the vote in the Human Rights Commission is the last chapter in the Goldstone report story.

The Chinese statement came during a visit of members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to Beijing last Thursday. Speaking about the issue, the Committee’s chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi said, “Right now, China, Russia, and other states that endorsed the report [in Geneva] understand that this must be the end of the road, because if the Security Council refers the matter to the International Criminal Court, it would have dire consequences for peace talks."

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to set up a task force of legal experts to review evidence gathered by the Israel Defence Forces on operation ‘Cast Lead’. He did not heed however the request made in the Goldstone report to open an investigation.

In the meantime, Israel is trying to undermine the report by drumming up support among as many other countries as possible.

Israel’s strategy is designed to raise doubts about international laws on war, and justify its actions as necessary in the fight against terrorism.

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