Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Israel, US reach 'silent understanding' on Goldstone veto
Jerusalem gearing for UN meeting on Gaza war report as it may lead to Security Council hearing. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon says Washington agreed to exercise right to nix decision
Jerusalem expects Washington to exercise its right of veto in the UN should the international body's Arab bloc be able to get it to vote on deferring the Goldstone Report to the Security Council. The United Nations' General Assembly is scheduled to debate the controversial report, which concluded Israel committed war crimes during January's military campaign in Gaza Strip, on Wednesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon confirmed Tuesday that Israel and the US have come to a "silent understanding" that that the latter will veto a decision to have the matter heard by Security Council.
Jerusalem sources said that the General Assembly is likely to defer the matter to the Security Council nonetheless and despite considerable effort to thwart the move.
The Goldstone Report has been widely disputed and a Security Council resolution may be the Arab nations' only chance of seeing the matter reach the International Crimes Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Nevertheless, Israel expects the "moral bloc" in the UN – i.e. Western nations that understand its need to relentlessly fight terror – to form a united front against any condemning resolution.
The Palestinian Authority's bid to have the report reviewed by the Security Council, however, may cause several Western nations and Russia to abstain.
"Russia has to deal with the situation in Georgia and Chechnya. It can't afford to deal with a UN resolution making any fire into populated areas a war crime," a senior Jerusalem source told Ynet.
Ayalon ordered Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal to convene all foreign ambassadors Tuesday and demand their respective countries vote against a UN resolution to that effect.
Israel also pursued other diplomatic avenues in an effort to avoid any further embossment during the UN meeting, enlisting the support of the US, France, the UK and dozens of other countries in order to foil an unfavorable resolution.
While the American veto is a viable option, Jerusalem knows chances of preventing the Security Council from reviewing the Goldstone Report are slim.
Representing Israel at the General Assembly will be UN Ambassador Prof. Gabriela Shalev. Foreign Ministry sources told Ynet that at this point, there are no plans to involve higher ranking official, so as not to inflame the debate surrounding the controversial report any further.