US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice spearheaded major efforts to thwart an independent UN investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas in Operation Cast Lead, according to a Foreign Policy report published on Monday.

WikiLeaks cables quoted by the report state that Rice used the prospect of such an investigation as a means of pressuring Israel to participate in a US-supported peace process.

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The release of the WikiLeaks cables follows the publication of Richard Goldstone's op-ed in The Washington Post saying that his report had unfairly accused Israel for intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.

The release of the WikiLeaks cables follows the publication of South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post saying that the factfinding mission he led, whose findings are known as the Goldstone Report, had unfairly accused Israel of intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.

The new cables are surprising, according to the Foreign Policy report, because they reveal in depth “how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations.”

They also show how the US and Israel were given special access to “highly sensitive” UN deliberations on an “independent” UNinquiry panel into the Gaza operation. This, according to Foreign Policy, raises questions over the independence of the process.

The report cites one WikiLeaks cable in which Rice spoke with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon several times about blocking recommendations of the board of inquiry to launch an investigation into alleged war crimes by IDF soldiers and Palestinian terrorists.

“Ambassador Rice urged the secretary-general to make clear in his cover letter when he transmits the summary to the Security Council that those recommendations exceeded the scope of the terms of reference and no further action is needed,” Rice is quoted as saying in the May 2009 cable.

In another cable cited by Foreign Policy, Rice told the president of the International Criminal Court, Sang- Hyun Song, that “how the ICC handles issues concerning the Goldstone Report will be perceived by many in the US as a test for the ICC, as this is a very sensitive matter.”

Rice also consulted with Israeli officials over efforts to prevent independent probes. In October 2009, she told Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that there was “positive US engagement with the Israeli Missions in New York and Geneva to blunt the effects of the Goldstone Report” in the UN Human Rights Council.

After the Goldstone Report was released in September 2009, Rice met with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and called the report flawed and biased, according to another cable.

However, Rice attempted to use the release of the report as leverage to convince Israel to support the peace process, suggesting that the report could be “more easily managed” if there was progress on the peace process.

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