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Netanyahu: UN must reject Goldstone report or peace process is over

Oct. 1, 2009 11:05 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2009 12:56 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened on Thursday to end the peace process if the United Nations Human Rights Council votes in support of a report accusing it and Palestinian groups of war crimes in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s remarks to his cabinet came on the eve of the Human Rights Council’s vote on former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone’s investigation into alleged violations during Israel’s offensive on Gaza last winter.

“Forwarding the decision of what is known as the Goldstone report, would strike a fatal blow to the peace process,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied.”

Goldstone, who was a prosecutor in war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, urged the 42-member state Council to endorse his report. A supportive vote would refer the report to the UN in New York, and possibly to the Security Council, which could potentially send it to the International Criminal Court.

Formal peace negotiations have been suspended since Israel began its three-week assault on Gaza last December. The war ultimately left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of women and children.

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, Ibrahim Khreisha, told the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper earlier on Thursday that the a resolution endorsing Goldstone’s report had the votes to pass.

However, another newspaper Haaretz, published a report late on Thursday that the Palestinian mission to Geneva had dropped its endorsement of the resolution, apparently under pressure from the US. This report could not be immediately verified by Ma’an.
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