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US folds to Israeli demands; issues muted concern over UN report

Sept. 19, 2009 10:15 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2009 8:50 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma’an - US State Department spokesman for the Near East Ian Kelly responded Friday to intensifying Israeli calls to slam a UN Human Rights Commission report that called Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip a war crime.

Speaking in Washington on Friday, Kelly noted, "Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel." The mandate of the report was to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which saw more than 1,400 Palestinians and 9 Israelis killed.

From the time the report was released Tuesday Israeli leaders and politicians condemned the report, which the military took no part in assisting. Interviews with residents of southern Israel, where Gaza militant factions launch homemade projectiles as acts against the country’s siege, had to be flown to Geneva to give testimony for the fact finding commission following Israeli refusal to cooperate.

Head of the mission, Jewish South-African justice Richard Goldstone, told Ma’an following the release of the report, "There hasn't been any [Israeli] attempt thus far to deal with the contents of the report at all." Goldstone explained over the phone on Tuesday, that Israeli spokespersons and ministers attacked the report as a concept and criticized its authors just minutes after receiving the 600 page document.

With silence from the international community continuing on Thursday, Israeli leaders switched tactics and began warning the United States and Russia that endorsing the report, and particularly its recommendation that Israel be taken to the International Criminal Court for investigations on their war crimes and “possible crimes against humanity,” would limit American ability to wage its war on terror.

Though the Israeli press came out Friday with stories saying the US had finally “sharply criticized” the report, Kelly’s actual words were muted. "We hope efforts related to the Middle East at the Human Rights Council and other international bodies will look to the future and how we can support the goal of a two-state solution," he said.

Kelly went further to suggest that Israel itself investigate the allegations on crimes against humanity. "We note in particular that Israel has the democratic institutions to

investigate and prosecute abuses, and we encourage it to use those institutions," he said.

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