UN Security Council to consider session on Gaza report
The UN Security Council will on Wednesday discuss holding an official session to examine the Goldstone report on the Israeli military incursion into Gaza at the turn of the year, Russian diplomats said, according to RIA Novosti.
The report, produced by an independent commission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone and established by the United Nations Human Rights Council, accuses the Israeli military and Palestinian militants of war crimes during the fighting in December 2008 and January 2009.
Most of the war crimes detailed in the report were on the Israeli side, and the Israeli government has rejected the findings, severely criticizing the report as one-sided. Israel refused to cooperate with the commission, and has said it did enough in working with another UN inquiry, which only looked at the effect of the conflict on UN facilities.
Arab states have backed the Goldstone report, and Libya, currently serving a two-year term on the Security Council, is pushing for the UN`s top body to consider its conclusions. The discussions are scheduled for 3.30 p.m. in New York (19:30 GMT).
"A decision could be taken on the results of Wednesday`s consultations to hold a Security Council session about the Goldstone commission report," a member of Russia`s permanent UN mission told RIA Novosti. "This proposal will be examined."
A vote in the UN Human Rights Council to endorse its findings scheduled for last Friday was put off until at least March. Israel and its allies have bitterly opposed the report, but the postponement of the vote was reportedly approved by the Palestinian Authority following strong pressure from Washington. Palestinian officials deny this, and have welcomed Libya`s efforts at the Security Council.
Israel started airstrikes on Gaza on December 27, 2008, in an attempt to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets into Israeli territory. The operation was expanded to a ground offensive, which ended on January 18, 2009, by which time more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed.
Hundreds of houses and other buildings, including factories, schools, hospitals and police stations, were destroyed during the Israeli military operation, and the continuing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has severely limited rebuilding due to restrictions on the import of construction materials.