A day before the UN Human Rights Council convenes to debate on a UN report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, Tel Aviv threatens to scrap peace talks with Palestinians unless the damning report is dropped.
The threat came Wednesday as the report was being discussed at the UN Security Council (UNSC)’s regular monthly meeting on the Middle East.
During the UNSC meeting, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged the 15-member body to adopt the report, compiled by a fact-finding mission headed by South African judge and international prosecutor Richard Goldstone.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will hold a special session to debate the issue on Thursday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Spain and Norway on Wednesday and asked them not to back the Gaza report.
The Geneva-based body was initially set to vote on the report last week, but it was delayed until March 2010, after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its support for the report.
Having faced an unprecedented wave of condemnation and accusations of treason over his controversial decision, Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas made a U-turn and called for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to vote on the report in order to save his image.
Different Palestinian factions, including Hamas, had accused Abbas of betraying the victims of the three-week war by bowing to pressure from the US and Israel. Both Israeli and US officials dismissed the report as biased.
If adopted, the UN Human Rights Council could refer the report to the UN Security Council. The UNSC can call for the prosecution of senior Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court, if Tel Aviv fails to launch its own investigations into the Gaza war under international scrutiny.