Friday, April 03, 2009

Will They Or Won't They ?

Will Israel cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council probe into human rights violations and war crimes regarding the Gaza conflict?

The UN has just made it much harder for the the Israelis to say no. It has appointed as head of the commission Richard Goldstone, a respected South African judge, and former chief prosecutor on the International Criminal Tribunals for ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Goldstone is also a Jew, and member of the board of governors of the Hebrew University. Hard to cry "bias" with this appointment. (Maybe the Palestineans should cry "bias"?)

Other members of the commission are British law professor, Christine Chinkin, retired Irish army colonel Desmond Travers and former UN human rights expert Hina Jilani of Pakistan.

"I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009," said Human Rights Council president Martin Uhomoibhi.

Goldstone attempted to remove the concern that the commission would be biased against Israel. He said his team would investigate "all violations of international humanitarian law" before, during and after the conflict that ended Jan. 18.

"It's in the interest of the victims. It brings acknowledgment of what happened to them. It can assist the healing process," he told reporters in Geneva. "I would hope it's in the interests of all the political actors, too."

"It is my hope that the findings of this mission will make a meaningful contribution to the peace process in the Middle East and to providing justice for the victims," he added.

Israel has refused to cooperate with previous investigative missions of the kind formed by the UN Human Rights Council.


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