Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ban awaits 'debate' in General Assembly

Oct. 29, 2009
E.B. SOLOMONT, jpost correspondent in new york , THE JERUSALEM POST

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he would defer to recommendations by the General Assembly regarding the Goldstone Report accusing Israel of war crimes during its military operation in Gaza. "I'm waiting for any guidelines, decisions or recommendations by the General Assembly for me to act upon," Ban told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday during a monthly press briefing.

Pressed to share his view on the substance of the report, he said: "I have clearly stated my support for Goldstone's mission and I have tried my best to provide necessary administrative and technical assistance for their activities."

Ban said he had met with Israeli and Palestinian authorities on multiple occasions and repeatedly urged both sides to conduct independent probes into the war. He said he had repeatedly urged the Israeli government to institute a credible domestic investigative process.

"The Goldstone Report has stated that both the violations committed by Israelis and also committed by Hamas, they should be also subject to investigation," the Ban said. "I hope all aspects and all the allegations should be fairly addressed."

Per the request of Arab states, and with the support of non-aligned members, the General Assembly is expected to begin discussion of the Goldstone Report in early November. In a letter to GA President Ali Treki of Libya, Arab states urged him to put the item on the agenda for the first week in November.

"Whenever or wherever there is a violation of human rights law," Ban said, "the perpetrators of these crimes and violations of human rights should be held accountable."

He declined to shed further light on possible resolutions in the General Assembly, including the possibility that the 192-member body could try to send the matter to the Security Council or the International Criminal Court. If the matter is discussed in the Security Council, the US is likely to use its veto to prevent prosecuting Israel.

"Now that the Goldstone Report was adopted by the Human Rights Council and is in the hands of the General Assembly, I'm now waiting for the debate among GA member states. I will decide my own course of action upon that," Ban said.

Regarding a request by UN officials that Israel compensate the international body for damage to UN premises in Gaza, Ban said Israeli leaders are considering the issue. He said he has discussed the matter with senior Israeli leaders. "I understand that they are considering this issue," he said. "I expect that they will come back to me as soon as possible with the necessary actions."
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