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Goldstone tells UN: War crimes accountability needed for peace

Sept. 29, 2009 12:54 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 30, 2009 2:38 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – A lack of accountability for war crimes committed in the Middle East is undermining any hope for peace in the region, Justice Richard Goldstone, told the UN Hman Rights Council Tuesday.

"A culture of impunity in the region has existed for too long," Goldstone, the author of the report, a former UN war crimes prosecutor and Jewish South African, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, was quoted by Reuters.

"The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible war crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence," he continued.

According to international, Israeli, and Palestinian human rights groups, between 1,100 and 1,500 Palestinians were killed during the attack Israel dubbed Operation Cast Lead. Nine Israelis, including three civilians, were killed, plus four who were killed by friendly fire.

Goldstone urged the 47-member state body to adopt his report which found that the Israel military and Palestinian fighters both committed war crimes during the attack.

According to the Associated Press, a resolution to endorse the report and its call to have the war crimes instigated by the International Criminal Court is supported by Arab states but opposed by Europeans and the US.

Palestinian and Israeli officials are slated to address the Council during a full day of debate on Goldstone’s findings later Tuesday.

A Human Rights Council vote later in the week will be a first major test for the report. Ultimately, the report will need the backing of the Security Council to be referred either to the International Criminal Court or to a possible special tribunal similar to those established for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
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