New York (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The UN General Assembly voted by a large majority a resolution which demands that Israel and the Palestinians launch an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity made by the two parties during the winter war in Gaza last year.
For two days the meeting discussed the report drawn up by South African judge Richard Goldstone, backed by 114 votes with 18 against. Many abstained, 44, including also those of some European countries such as France and Great Britain. Italy, Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic, along with Israel and the United States voted against the resolution.
The Goldstone report concluded that during the operation Cast Lead in last December to January, Israel had "committed actions that can be defined as war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity" with a disproportionate use of force, deliberately targeting civilians, using Palestinians as human shields and destroying civilian infrastructure.
The report also accuses Palestinian militants, including Hamas, which controls Gaza, of war crimes and crimes against humanity, for their continued launching mortars and rockets against civilians in southern Israel.
Goldstone conclusions were that if the two parties do not agree to open an investigation into the allegations within six months, they would be referred to the International Court in The Hague.
During the operation Cast Lead more than 1400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed among Israelis, there were 13 deaths, of which only 3 civilians.
The resolution passed yesterday demands that the UN secretary general to monitor the application within three months, with the option of taking the report "to the other relevant UN bodies, including the Security Council."
Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League's representative in New York - sponsor of the resolution - said the vote is "a very good result" and "a victory for justice."
Today, a statement by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the work and the vote of the Assembly as "outside reality".
In recent weeks, Israel had launched a major diplomatic offensive to have the report rejected at the United Nations Commission in Geneva and not discussed at the UN general assembly. Israel considers the report "unfair and one-sided”.
UN Assembly resolutions are not binding, but they give opportunity to the Security Council to act and make binding decisions.
On 3 November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that asks President Obama and the Secretary of State Clinton to oppose the Goldstone report with all their strength. Therefore it is likely that any discussion of the report to the Security Council will be vetoed by the United States.