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UN gives Israelis, Palestinians more time to finish Gaza conflict rights probe

[JURIST] The United Nations General Assembly [official website] voted [press release] Friday to give the Israelis and Palestinians additional time to finish their separate investigations into alleged human rights violations that took place during the 2008-2009 conflict in Gaza [JURIST news archive]. The measure, which gives the two parties five additional months, was opposed by Israel and the US. While permanent Palestinian observer to the UN Riyad Mansour [UN backgrounder] called the resolution a "victory" [UN press release], Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev [Ha'aretz profile] questioned [Ha'aretz report] the impartiality of the Palestinian investigation as it would be carried out by Hamas. Meanwhile, US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff [official profile] voted against [press release] the measure because Israel had already submitted a detailed report to the General Assembly, and because he said the resolution was inherently biased against Israel. He claimed the original UN fact-finding report on the Gaza conflict, the Goldstone report [JURIST news archive], was similarly biased.

Earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said it was unclear [JURIST report] if Israel and the Palestinians had fully met UN demands to investigate war crimes that may have taken place during the Gaza conflict. In November 2009, the UN had originally adopted a resolution [JURIST report] giving the two parties three months to complete an independent investigation. According to the Goldstone report, which was officially endorsed [JURIST report] by the UN in October, both Israel and Hamas committed [JURIST report] human rights violations during the Gaza conflict. Both Israel and the US criticized [DOS briefing] the report. An internal Israel military investigation found that no war crimes had been committed [JURIST report] during the conflict, but Israel recently disciplined [JURIST report] two high-ranking officers for firing shells into a populated area of the Gaza strip.

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