UN backs Goldstone report into Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, October 16, 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted the Goldstone Report, with a huge majority voting in favour of referring the report’s recommendations to the UN Security Council.

Twenty-five members voted in favour, with six voting against the report, including the US. Eleven countries, including Britain and France, declined to vote.

Israel does not have a seat on the Human Rights Council, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak personally telephoned European leaders, including Gordon Brown and David Miliband, urging them to vote against the report.

The Conservatives have voiced their opposition to the resolution. Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Unless the draft resolution is redrafted to reflect the role that Hamas played in starting the conflict, we would recommend that the British Government vote to reject the resolution.”

Stuart Polak, Director of the Conservative Friends of Israel added: "The report is severely flawed. Firstly there is no moral equivalence between the actions of Israel in self defence and the terrorist actions of Hamas in attempting to destroy Israel. Secondly the UNHRC - with member states with themselves questionable human rights records - is not a credible forum for these sorts of discussions. And thirdly the report itself is laced with factual inaccuracies, and omissions."

The UN General Assembly must now consider the Goldstone Report, which was strongly critical of Israel’s conduct during Operation Cast Lead, and report back to the Human Rights Council.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had not originally lent his support to the report and did not encourage countries to vote in favour of it. But after an outcry in Gaza, Mr Abbas changed his position and pushed for a vote by the Human Rights Council.

A spokeswoman for the Board of Deputies commented: "It is not surprising but nonetheless ironic, to say the least, that countries like Saudi Arabia and others, under the cover of the UNHRC, are singling out Israel by citing allegations of war crimes based on the deeply flawed Goldstone Report.

"Every nation state should be accountable for its actions, and Israel has both undertaken around 100 individual investigations, some of which are ongoing, and worked with the Secretary General of the UN in his report to the Security Council, but the credibility of the Goldstone Report remains deeply suspect, with commentators such as the Times and the Economist calling its findings into question."

She added: "The British Government should not allow the credibility of international law and concerted efforts to find peace to be undermined by standing by as the Goldstone Report receives endorsement. No one should rely on the United States using its veto to retrieve the situation should the matter proceed to the Security Council."

Last updated: 12:31pm, October 20 2009