General Assembly to consider UN probe into Gaza conflict next week

30 October 2009 – The General Assembly will meet on 4 November to consider the report of the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict, which found evidence that both Israel and the Palestinians committed serious war crimes during the hostilities earlier this year.

The President of the Assembly, Ali Treki, has received a letter from the UN Human Rights Council transmitting the report of the mission, which was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The four-member investigative team found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council, when it took up the report two weeks ago, had strongly condemned a host of Israeli measures in the occupied Palestinian territory and called on both sides to implement the mission’s recommendations.

The Council had also recommended that the Assembly consider the report during the main part of its current session, requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report on the implementation of its recommendations to the Council in March, and condemned Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the mission.

Next Wednesday’s meeting follows a request from the Arab Group in New York, supported by the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), to consider the report in the Assembly during the first week of November, according to a note issued by the spokesperson for the Assembly President.

Mr. Ban has called on both Israel and the Palestinians to carry out “full, independent and credible investigations” in accordance with the recommendations of the mission.

He said he was aware both were now going to have their own investigations. “I have not received any further details, but that is positive, I would say,” he told a news conference at UN Headquarters on Wednesday. “I have been repeatedly urging the Israeli Government to institute a credible domestic investigation process.”