Goldstone: Franco-British initiative

By Martin Bright, Political Editor, November 3, 2009
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Britain and France have today delivered a new proposal to the United Nations calling on Israel and the Palestinians to launch an immediate inquiry into allegations of war crimes during the war in Gaza.

The initiative is designed to bolster European opposition to the controversial Goldstone Report into the conflict and head off attempts by Arab delegates to bring the report to the UN Security Council. According to the Ha’aretz newspaper, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked French President Nicholas Sarkozy to organise collective European Union opposition to a resolution on the Goldstone report. As part of the inititaive, Britain and France are pressing for the report to be referred back to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the body that commissioned Goldstone, rather than the Security Council itself.

Arab delegates are expected to present a resolution at tomorrow’s session of the UN Assembly calling on UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to act on Goldstone’s recommendations, which included referring Israel and Hamas to the International Court of Justice in the Hague if no action had been taken within six months.

The French news agency AFP has reported that Arab delegates will also call on the Swiss government to convene a conference on measures to enforce the fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians during times of war with reference to Israel.

The Jewish Leadership Council today issued a statement expressing concern at the atmosphere of “increasing delegitimisation of Israel in the UK”. The statement follows a meeting of the JLC last Thursday at which members discussed the possible impact of the Goldstone report in Britain.

The statement signed by JLC chairman Vivian Wineman and executive committee chair Mick Davis, said: “JLC members expressed their deep disappointment that the British government failed to vote against the UNHRC resolution adopting the report."

The Council called on Foreign Secretary David Miliband to oppose the further progress of the report within the UN.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the British government was concentrating on moderating the language of the Goldstone resolution: “If the resolution fully endorses the Goldstone report then we have a problem with that.”

Last updated: 10:52am, November 4 2009