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17 April 2024

US helped Israel contain UN Gaza war probes

Published
By AFP

The United States worked behind the scenes to help Israel contain UN probes into possible war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday.

The online foreign affairs magazine cited exclusive WikiLeaks cables detailing moves by the US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to prevent a more thorough UN investigation of alleged abuses during the conflict.

Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the three-week-long Israeli offensive in December 2008 and January 2009, which was aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks.

According to one cable, Rice spoke with UN chief Ban Ki-moon three times on May 4, 2009 to urge him to remove recommendations for a wider investigation from a board of inquiry report into attacks on UN sites in Gaza.
Rice "underscored the importance of having a strong cover letter that made clear that no further action was needed and would close out this issue," the US diplomatic cable said.

Ban said his staff was working with the Israeli delegation and "called her after the letter had been finalized to report that he believed they had arrived at a satisfactory cover letter."

Later that year Israel and the United States pushed back against a similar effort to investigate the war by the UN Human Rights Council, which appointed a team led by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

The release of the Goldstone probe coincided with US efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and in another cable Rice links the two during a meeting with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

She urges him to "help us help them with progress on the peace process, saying that the report can be more easily managed if there is progress."

The Goldstone report said there was evidence that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups had committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, urging independent probes on both sides.

Two weeks ago, Goldstone stepped back from the report, saying new information about Israel's military actions led him to believe he had erred in concluding that Israel targeted civilians during the 22-day conflict.