Turkey to raise Goldstone report at UN 27Sep09 September 29, 2009

by Louis Charbonneau  -  Independent On Line (IOL-South Africa)  – 27 September 2009
New York – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday his country would push the Security Council to discuss a report by United Nations investigators accusing Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes in the Gaza war.

“We will definitely take the position to discuss this issue on the Security Council,” Erdogan told reporters.

A United Nations fact-finding mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone issued a report last week that said both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants had committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the December-January war in the Gaza Strip.

The report urged the Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if either Israel or Palestinian authorities failed to investigate and prosecute those suspected of the crimes within six months.

Erdogan, who is in New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, said through an interpreter there should be “accountability” for anyone guilty of war crimes in Gaza.

“We’re in favor of opening discussions on the Goldstone report and whoever is the guilty party, they should be identified and face the necessary sanctions,” he said.

Turkey joined the 15-nation Security Council as a temporary member in January and will have a seat until the end of 2010.

Both Israel and Hamas denied committing any war crimes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the report of the Goldstone commission, which Israel refused to cooperate with, as a travesty.

Ankara’s insistence on raising the issue in New York might annoy Washington. The United States has said the report should be discussed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, not the Security Council.

US veto power in the Security Council makes it unlikely the body would take any action against Washington’s ally Israel. But any serious discussion of the Goldstone report in New York could embarrass the Jewish state.

Israel and the United States have long criticized what they say is the anti-Israeli bias of the Human Rights Council, although the United States joined it this year after President Barack Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, boycotted it.

Erdogan said Turkey was ready to help mediate talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as to resume its mediation in indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria – although the Jewish state says it now wants direct talks with Damascus.

He said it would be possible to negotiate a solution between Israel and the Palestinians but in order for that to happen, the Palestinians would have to unite.

“There are results that can be achieved by sitting around the table and talking about them,” he said. “Once we have unity in Palestine, only then will steps yield positive results.”

The militant group Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 after routing the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which now controls only the West Bank.

The West recognizes Fatah as the legitimate rulers of the Palestinian areas and will not negotiate with Hamas, which says Israel has no right to exist.

LINK: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=nw20090927102458910C193366

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