11/05/2009, 00.00
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Israel and Hamas war crimes before the UN general assembly

Great support for a resolution from Arab and non-aligned countries. Demand for independent investigations within three months on the crimes committed during Operation “Cast Lead” and discussion of the report before the Security Council. The vote by today.

New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Dozens of countries have given their support to a resolution demanding an investigation into war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas during the war in Gaza last winter.

Since yesterday the UN General Assembly has been discussing the report prepared by Judge Richard Goldstone. The report condemns Israel and Palestinian militants for war crimes and perhaps crimes against humanity, for using civilians as shields and unwarranted use of violence.  About 1400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 13 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died in the war named "Operation Cast Lead” by Israel, which took place December-January 2009.

 The Goldstone report was already presented in Geneva, to the UN Commission on Human Rights, which voted for its presentation to the General Assembly at UN Headquarters.

From here it could go to the Security Council.

The report is much appreciated by the majority of countries for its balance. But Israel and the United States accused it of being biased and too harsh toward Israel. The resolution was prepared by some Arab countries together with others in the group of NAM.

It calls on Israel and the Palestinian authorities to initiate an investigation within three months into crimes and asks the UN secretary general to bring the report before the Security Council. It is likely that most of the 192 assembly members will support the motion, which should be voted on today. But the five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - are doing everything possible to ensure the report does not reach them.

Assembly resolutions are not binding; those of the Security Council are.

Gabriela Shalev, Israel's UN ambassador reiterated his government's position, that the debate on the report "damages every effort to give new strength to the negotiations [for peace] in the region."

Two days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that asks President Obama and the Secretary of State Clinton to oppose with all their strength to the Goldstone report.


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