U.S. dismisses UN Gaza report

14:03, October 01, 2009      

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The Obama administration has "grave concerns" about the recommendations put forth by the Goldstone report on Israel's conduct during the Gaza offensive, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Wednesday.

"We believe that the mandate for the Goldstone report was one-sided and that many of the recommendations are appropriately dealt with by the institutions within Israel," she said. "We and other nations will be engaged about that but we have grave concerns about the recommendations."

Clinton made the comments to reporters after chairing a special Security Council session on women and peace and security. The United States holds the rotating Council presidency in September.

The investigation -- commissioned by UN Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone --examined a number of alleged war crimes committed by Israel and Palestine in January.

The 575-page report, released on Sept. 15 concluded that while both sides were responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, Israel reacted to Hamas attacks with disproportionate force. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians.

Israel maintains that the investigation, which it did not cooperate with, was one-sided and gave legitimacy to the Hamas militant group.

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council held a one-day debate on Tuesday where Goldstone said all but one of the individual Israeli attacks examined by investigators had no military purpose.

Goldstone's report urged both Israel and Palestine to conduct independent, impartial investigations within six months or face possible action by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He also called on Security Council members to endorse the report's recommendations.

But Clinton said that the appropriate venue in the international system is the Human Rights Council, signaling that the United States would not support Security Council efforts to refer the matter to the ICC.

The United States has argued that adopting the Goldstone report and following up on its recommendations would disrupt peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

European Union countries on the Human Rights Council, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have remained silent about the report.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Human Right Watch said: "The failure of the United States and European Union governments to endorse the report of the Gaza fact-finding mission sends a message that serious laws-of-war violations will be treated with kid gloves when committed by an ally."

According to the New York-based agency, Israeli investigations into the conflict, all undertaken by the military, have resulted in only two Palestinian witnesses being interviewed and only one conviction of a soldier, who was sentenced to seven months in prison for the theft of a credit card.

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