Palestinians seek extension of UN Gaza mission

27th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Palestinian Authority urged the UN Monday to extend a human rights mission pressing for "credible" action by Israel and Hamas on violations during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza.

The experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said in a report earlier this month that both sides had failed so far to carry out adequate probes into allegations of war crimes committed during the conflict in the tiny Palestinian territory nearly two years ago.

In a debate on the report at the 47-member Council, the Palestinian Authority said it intended to lodge a resolution seeking to extend the experts' mission.

"We feel we will be submitting a draft resolution to this council asking for the fact finding mission's mandate to be extended in order to... monitor the internal investigations requested (from) both the Israeli and Palestinian side," the Palestinian Authority's representative Ibrahim Khraishi said.

He also asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay "to continue following up the recommendations contained in the fact-finding missions in the Gaza conflict."

The experts' mission was set up in March after a UN-mandated report by South African judge Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian groups of war crimes during the three-week conflict which erupted in late December 2008.

Goldstone had asked for a follow-up to ensure both sides held "credible" investigations.

Israel insisted that it was responding to both foreign and domestic pressure and had made "significant efforts" to expand its own inquiries.

"Israel calls on members of this Council who act in good faith... those members should reject any further action on this matter by the Council," added Israeli ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar.

However, several Arab and Muslim majority countries, which carry telling weight in the 47-nation body, backed the Palestinian call.

Speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, Pakistan recommended the committee carry on with its work, while Egypt, representing the Non-Aligned Movement, said the mission should continue "until justice is done."

Diplomatic sources said a resolution should be submitted before the end of the council's current session on October 1.

© 2010 AFP

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