As the UN General Assembly debated the Goldstone Commission's report on Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev charged that the report, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes during last winter's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, was "irreparably tainted" and "bends both fact and law."
Shalev warned that the "report and this debate do not promote peace - they damage any effort to revitalize negotiations in our region."
Shalev told the assembly that report ignored "the reality of terror" from the 12,000 rockets and mortars fired by Hamas into southern Israel - "and the complexity of military challenges in fighting terrorists in urban warfare."
She dismissed the Goldstone panel as "a politicized body with predetermined conclusions."
"Rather than discuss how to better stop terrorist groups who deliberately target civilians, this body launches yet another campaign against the victims of terrorism, the people of Israel," Shalev said.
"Time and again," Shalev said, "the report inverts Israel's unprecedented extensive efforts to save civilian lives as proof that any civilian casualties were therefore deliberate."
Shalev also criticized the report for dismissing Israel's independent legal system, its investigations of misconduct in the armed forces, and its right to self-defense.
Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman left Israel for New York Wednesday evening at the behest of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in order to assist with Israel's public relations campaign concerning the Goldstone Commission's report.
Gillerman told Israel Radio that he agreed to the prime minister's request after being convinced that every effort must be done to ensure that Israel does not suffer adverse consequences should the report be passed on to the UN Security Council or to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Goldstone's report recommended the Security Council require both Israel and Hamas to carry out credible investigations into alleged abuses during the conflict and to follow that up with action in their courts.
If either side refuses, the investigators recommended the Security Council refer the evidence for prosecution by the International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.
During Wednesday's UNGA session, the Palestinians warned Israel they would seek justice for war crimes allegedly committed in the Gaza conflict in the UN Security Council and through the International Criminal Court.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, urged the 192-member General Assembly to support a resolution that calls on Israel and the Palestinians to carry out independent investigations of human rights violations.
The draft resolution asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the General Assembly, within three months, on implementation "with a view to considering further action, if necessary, by the relevant United Nations organs and bodies, including by the Security Council."
Mansour also insisted Israel's "aggressions and crimes" cannot be equated "with actions committed in response by the Palestinian side."
Stressing that "peace cannot be achieved without justice," Mansour said: "We are determined to follow up this report and its recommendations in all relevant international forums, including the Security Council and the International Criminal Court, until the realization of justice."
General Assembly President Ali Treki opened Wednesday's session by saying that "without justice, there can be no progress towards peace" in the Middle East.
"Let us be clear what is at stake here - the human rights of nearly 2 million civilians are at stake," said Treki. "Without justice, there can be no progress towards peace. Let us commit together -to leave all politics and selectivity at the door and take up the cause of justice based on one universal set of rules - we should protect the rights of the victims."
"The question before us is simple - despite the political sensitivities associated with it," he said. "We have to answer whether respect to human rights is universal or not - whether we will be divided on human rights issues or should we remain united behind advocating their respect all over the world."
"The report before the Assembly documents serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law perpetuated against civilians," continued Treki. "The GA is fulfilling its responsibility and undertaking its role as prescribed today," he said.
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