[JURIST] The UN General Assembly [official website] on Thursday adopted a resolution giving Israel and Palestine three months to conduct independent investigations into possible war crimes committed during last winter's Gaza conflict [JURIST news archive]. The General Assembly voted 114-18 with 44 abstentions [press release] expressing support for the Goldstone Report [text, PDF], the result of a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] fact-finding mission, which accused both Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) [official website] and Hamas [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] fighters of war crimes during the conflict. Israel has criticized the report as biased, questioned the objectivity of the fact-finding, and on Wednesday urged the UN not to adopt the report's findings in a statement to the General Assembly [statement text]. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that Israel rejects [press release] Thursday's resolution, calling it "completely detached from realities on the ground":
The results of the vote and the large number of member states who voted against or abstained, demonstrate clearly that the resolution does not have the support of the "moral majority" of UN members. ... During Operation "Cast Lead" in Gaza, the Israel Defense Force demonstrated higher military and moral standards than each and every one of this resolution's instigators. Israel, like any other democratic nation, maintains the right to self-defense, and, as was witnessed in recent days, will continue to act to protect the lives of its citizens from the threat of international terrorism.
The UN Security Council [official website] is unlikely to take action on the General Assembly's non-binding resolution, as China was alone among the five permanent members [UN materials] in supporting the resolution.
In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official profile] announced [JURIST report] the formation of a task force to respond to the Goldstone Report. The formation of the task force came just two weeks after the UNHRC passed a resolution officially endorsing [JURIST report] the Goldstone Report. In September, Richard Goldstone, head of the Gaza mission, presented his findings [JURIST report] to the UNHRC. The Goldstone mission began its field operations in Gaza in June, entering Gaza through Egypt's Rafah crossing after Israel announced that it would not cooperate with the investigation, and concluded hearings [JURIST reports] in July. Goldstone was appointed to head the investigation [JURIST report] in April, amid strong criticism [JURIST report] from Israel.