Israel will not probe Gaza war, minister says
Israel will not establish a commission of inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed during last winter's Gaza war, a minister said Tuesday, DPA reported.
The decision would mean a rejection of a demand in a United Nations report on the three-week Gaza offensive. That report was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council and authored by South African judge Richard Goldstone.
Since the report was published in September, the UN had urged both Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza to launch credible investigations of their own into evidence that their fighters committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
"There is no intention of establishing a commission of inquiry," said Diaspora and Information Minister Yuli-Alon Edelstein of the ruling Likud party.
Speaking from New York, where he was scheduled to meet UN officials, he said Israel planned to submit "in a number of days" a formal reply to allegations made in the Goldstone report.
"Israel as per a UN request is submitting a document which replies to very specific allegations," Edelstein told Israel Radio.
The Goldstone report gave Israel and Hamas three months to launch investigations into the "serious" allegations of violations of international and humanitarian law and another three months to inform the UN Security Council about those investigations.
Israel has thus far had its own army investigate incidents in which Israeli soldiers committed alleged abuses, but it has not established a commission of inquiry independent of its military.
It has held a heated internal debate about whether such an independent commission should be established with Defence Minister Ehud Barak and the country's attorney general arguing in favour and others against. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had thus far remained on the fence.
Edelstein is considered a relative hardliner in the Likud who lives in a settlement near Bethlehem. It was not immediately clear whether he was representing Israel's final and formal position on the Goldstone report's recommendation.