The UN General Assembly has said it will meet next week to consider
a UN report that accused both Israeli forces and the Palestinian
group Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity
during the Gaza war last winter.
The report, compiled by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South
African jurist, was endorsed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights
Council on October 16, which recommended that the General Assembly
take it up during the current session.
Jean Victor Nkolo, the General Assembly spokesman, said Ali Treki,
the Assembly's president, had received a letter from the president
of the Human Rights Council about the report and requests from Arab
nations asking the assembly to consider its findings and
recommendations during the first week of November.
The 118-member non-aligned group of mainly developing nations also
asked the assembly to consider the report findings and
Nkolo said Treki "intends to convene a plenary meeting of the
General Assembly on November 4".
The Goldstone report was more critical of Israel than Hamas,
accusing its troops of using disproportionate force, deliberately
targeting civilians and using Palestinians as human shields in the
three-week offensive that raged between last December and January.
About 1,400 Palestinians, a majority of them women and children, and
13 Israelis were killed in the offensive.
The report also accused Israel of destroying civilian
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was accused of deliberately
targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through rocket
attacks on southern Israel.
The report recommended that the UN Security Council ask both sides
to carry out credible investigations within three months into
alleged abuses during the conflict.
If either side refuses, the investigators recommended that the
Security Council refer the evidence for prosecution by the
International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes
tribunal, within six months.
Analysts have said that even if the report eventually gets to the
Security Council, there is little chance concrete action will be
taken due to objections by the US, Israel's closest ally which has
The US, which was among countries that voted against the Human
Rights Council resolution endorsing the report, has said the report
is one-sided and should not be taken up by the UN's most powerful
The report has triggered an uproar in Israel with the country's
leaders calling the document biased and accusing the Human Rights
Council of being hostile to Israel.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, told a news conference he
looked forward to the General Assembly's debate and decision.
"I will decide my own course of action upon that," he said.
Ban stressed that alleged violations of international human rights
and humanitarian laws must be investigated and those responsible
should be held accountable.
"I have called repeatedly on both the Israeli government and the
Palestinians to carry out full, independent and credible
investigations," he said.