'Goldstone overshadowing real issues'

Shalev Israel still ha

The Goldstone Commission report takes the focus off the "real" issues in the Middle East, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev told the UN Security Council Wednesday. Speaking during the council's monthly meeting on the Middle East, which moved up a week because the Palestinians and their supporters wanted to focus on the Goldstone report, Shalev said, "Instead of discussing the real and worrying questions facing the Middle East, the UN is focusing on the Goldstone report, which Israel believes legitimizes terror organizations." The report accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter. Shalev went on to say, "An ordinary person would think that an emergency UN session would be called when Gazan and Lebanese terrorists fire missiles into Israeli territory, or because of the Iranian nuclear threat. She also slammed Teheran for its alleged support of terror groups in the Middle East, saying, "Iran supports and funds terror which destabilizes the entire region and forces it into perpetual conflict." US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff reiterated Wednesday that the report and "the allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations ... are not a matter for Security Council action." He also criticized what he termed "its unbalanced focus on Israel." Wolff said Israel has the institutions to seriously investigate the allegations "and we encourage it to do so." On the other hand, he added: "Hamas is a terrorist organization and has neither the ability nor the willingness to examine its violations of human rights." Also speaking during the Security Council discussion, UN Under Secretary-General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe said that UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon "calls upon all of the parties to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the conflict without delay," according to AFP. "He hopes that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses throughout the world," Pascoe was further quoted as saying. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki called for Israel to be punished for alleged war crimes during its "savage" attack on Gaza. He and Shalev traded accusations about the report during the meeting. Directly after the Security Council session, Shalev told Channel 2 that Israel "still has some friends left in the world." Regarding fierce criticism of Israel in the wake of the Goldstone Commission report she said, "It's hard to sit and hear these things ... But there will be a similar situation in Geneva in the coming days." Asked about a discussion in the UN Human Rights Council on the Goldstone report, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Shalev quoted Shakespeare's Macbeth, telling Channel 2 that the discussions were merely, "Sound and fury, signifying nothing." Such UN debates, she said, "just allow the Arabs and their friends to speak their minds," adding, "We'll sit and listen." AP contributed to this report