UN Assembly votes for probes of Gaza war charges

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pretoria -The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to call upon both Israel and Palestine to conduct "independent and credible" investigations of the alleged war crimes during the 22-day Gaza conflict which broke out in December 2008.

The resolution was adopted with 114 voting in favour, 18 against and 44 abstentions, on Thursday.

South Africa also co-sponsored the resolution and voted in favour of the resolution.

"The South African Government strongly believes that the full implementation of this report and its recommendations is crucial to addressing the pernicious acts of impunity and will contribute greatly towards ensuring accountability," South Africa's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Baso Sangqu told the assembly.

The South African government also called for the government of Israel to fully comply with the recommendations contained in the report, including requiring Israel to set up an independent, credible body to carry out the investigations and prosecutions to address the violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law.

Israel, which had strenuously opposed the non-binding resolution and the UN report that it endorsed, voted against it as did its staunchest ally, the United States, along with Australia and a few European countries.

A majority of European Union countries, including Britain, France, Spain and Sweden, abstained after failing to secure amendments to the text, including one that would have dropped references to possible Security Council action if the report's findings are not implemented. Russia also abstained.

The move capped a two-day debate on the 575-page UN-commissioned report by a panel led by respected former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone.

The report recommended that its findings be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza fail to conduct credible investigations into the war.

From the outset, Israel rejected the report as biased.