Goldstone report is 'emotive issue': Britain and France



LONDON- The leaders of Britain and France wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday acknowledging that a UN report on the Gaza war was "an emotive issue" and urging a moderate response from all sides.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy responded after the UN Human Rights Council adopted the Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in the devastating 22-day Gaza conflict launched last December.



Goldstone report is 'emotive issue': Britain and France
Israel has sharply criticised the move, saying it "impairs both the effort to protect human rights in accordance with international law and the effort to promote peace in the Middle East."
The report's author, Richard Goldstone, himself criticised the resolution, saying that unlike his report which it endorsed, the wording slammed only Israel and spared Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip.
In their letter, extracts of which were released by Downing Street, Brown and Sarkozy said: "We recognise that the Goldstone report is an emotive issue for Israel and the Palestinians.
"We want international discussion of the Goldstone report to be managed in a way that supports an improvement of the situation on the ground, including the security of Israel and the Palestinians, and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
"We recognise Israel's right to self defence and are convinced that peace is the best guarantee for Israel’s and Israelis' security."
Brown and Sarkozy also called on Netanyahu to give humanitarian convoys access to Gaza, proceed with an independent probe into the conflict and share the findings, halt settlement activity in the Occupied Territories and resume negotiations along the lines laid out by the US.
Later, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband defended Britain's decision not to take part in the vote on the report, insisting there was "nothing half-hearted" about that move.
"The resolution that was put today was not balanced and did not address the allegations against all sides in an appropriate way," he told BBC television.
"It was right that we said look, we need more time to get the progress we want to see, first of all on the inquiries, secondly on access to Gaza, thirdly on the peace process.
"The vote was called in the middle of those discussions. There's nothing mealy-mouthed about being principled and consistent in public and in private about the issues we're pursuing."
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Saturday, October 17th 2009
AFP
           


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