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UN: Ban Ki Moon calls for independent investigations into war crimes

Oct. 14, 2009 8:57 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 15, 2009 2:05 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma’an/Agencies - UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for "credible internal investigations" to be conducted by both Israel and Palestine into allegations outlined in the Goldstone report on possible war crimes committed during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December and January.

The call came during a meeting of the UN Security Council session on Wednesday, two days ahead of an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council where a vote will be held on a resolution to adopt the recommendations of the report including a possible investigation into the war crimes allegations in the Goldstone report. The meeting was moved forward six days from the regularly scheduled sit-down, based on a request from Libya to urgently discuss the Goldstone report.

In his briefing, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe noted that "Worrying developments on the ground have increased tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past month and it is vital that both sides refrain from provocative actions.

“While the immediate crisis may have passed, we remain concerned about the broader situation in East Jerusalem and the potential for renewed tensions,” Pascoe told member states.

“Even with the full determination and support of the international community to achieve a two-state solution, the essential ingredient is political will from the parties to meet their obligations and negotiate an end to the conflict," he said referring to recent escalations of violence in the Jerusalem area, with heavy Israeli police presence throughout the Old City during the Jewish holidays.

According to the briefing the UN official said the issue of the Old City of Jerusalem will only be fully resolved in final-status negotiations as part of the Roadmap peace plan championed by the Quartet.

“Until then, the repeated call of the Quartet on Israel to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem and on the Palestinian Authority to refrain from incitement remains more relevant than ever,” he stressed, also citing continuing Israeli “illegal” settlement activity in Palestinian areas.

Israeli representative says “urgent” meeting should be on “Iranian threat”

The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz outlined the dismissive and at times irate remarks of its Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev, who told Security Council members an “ordinary man would think that an urgent Security Council meeting is being convened due to the ongoing bombardments of Israel by terrorists from Gaza and Lebanon, or due to the Iranian threat derived from the nuclear program it is developing. But no.

"The urgency here is only an excuse 'to snatch' the Council's agenda in order to promote an issue which should be discussed somewhere else. The country responsible for violating the procedure, as we all know, is none other than Libya. This country is a real champion in human rights issues, which only recently celebrated the return of an arch terrorist, a terrorist responsible for the cold blooded murder of hundreds of innocent people over Lockerbie. This is the same country whose leaders called this council only several weeks ago 'the terror council.'"

Moving on to comment on the UN-mandated Goldstone report, Shalev said "Israel views the report as a one-sided, biased and erroneous paper, just like the forum and the mandate which appointed it.

"This is a report which legitimizes and encourages terror, denying Israel's right to defend its citizens. A Report which has fallen straight into the strategic trap guided by terror organizations across the world. A report preventing democratic countries from defending themselves and allowing terror to claim victims, target innocent people and use those it defends as a human shield."

She called the report and the Goldstone commission itself, which Israeli officials refused cooperate with as it prepared the report, an attempt"to divert the Security Council's attention from the real issues on the agenda in our region, and instead of encouraging the sides to the road of peace and renewing the negotiations, the discussion is diverted to a narrative which is destructive to the peace process. If Israel is required to take additional chances for peace, the international community must recognize our right to self-defense."

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