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Barak rebuffs UN chief over Gaza probe

June 3, 2009 11:10 A.M. (Updated: June 3, 2009 11:10 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak came under pressure from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to to cooperate with an international investigation into alleged violations of international law during the recent attack on Gaza.

The UN Fact-Finding Mission, led by the renowned Justice Richard Goldstone, is in Gaza this week as part of the UN Human Rights Council's investigation of abuses committed during the three-week war that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead.

Ban raised the issue with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a meeting yesterday in New York, the UN News Centre reported. "On the Gaza fact-finding mission, the Secretary-General renewed his call for cooperation from Israel," Ban's spokesperson, Michele Montas, told reporters.

Barak told reporters that he rejected Ban's request. "We don't approve of the mandate the committee was given to investigate war crimes," Barak said he told Ban, according to the Jerusalem Post. He added, however, that Goldstone "is valued by the world, and by us as well."

The Israeli blockade of Gaza, the long-stalled Arab-Israeli peace process, and Lebanon were also discussed in Ban's meeting with Barak, Montas said, according to the News Centre.

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