US campaigned heavy-handedly to help Israel escape UN war crimes probe: WikiLeaks

April 19th, 2011 - 4:39 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 19(ANI): The United States led a vigorous campaign to hinder the progress of an independent UN investigation into possible war crimes in the aftermath of Israel’s 2008-2009 intervention in the Gaza Strip, according to diplomatic cables unveiled by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

The new cables provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the United Nations as American diplomats sought to shield Israel’s military from outside scrutiny over its conduct during Operation Cast Lead, Foreign Policy reports.

These documents, though consistent with public US statements at the time opposing a UN investigation into Israeli military operations, reveal in extraordinary detail how the US wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations, the report said.

They also demonstrate how the US and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal UN deliberations on an “independent” UN board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process, it added.

In one cable, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, repeatedly prodded UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to block a recommendation of the board of inquiry to carry out a sweeping probe into alleged war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants, the report said.

In another cable, Rice issued a veiled warning to the International Criminal Court (ICC) President Sang-Hyun Song that an investigation into alleged Israeli crimes could damage its standing with the US at a time when the new administration was moving closer to the tribunal, it added.

“How the ICC handles issues concerning the Goldstone Report will be perceived by many in the US as a test for the ICC, as this is a very sensitive matter,” a November 3, 2009 cable from the US mission to the United Nations quoted her, as telling Song.

Rice, meanwhile, assured Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during an October 21, 2009 meeting in Tel Aviv that the US had done its utmost to “blunt the effects of the Goldstone report”, and that she was confident that she could “build a blocking coalition” to prevent any push for a probe by the Security Council, according to an October 27, 2009 cable.

Apparently due to persistent American pressure, Ban Ki-moon flatly rejected UN troubleshooter Ian Martin ’s recommendation for an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces, Hamas, and other Palestinian militants, according to the report.

The release of the cables comes as Rice is very publicly sticking with her position on the Goldstone Report, said the report.

“The United States was very, very plain at the time and every day since that the Goldstone report was deeply flawed, and we objected to its findings and conclusions,” Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

“We didn’t see any evidence at the time that the Israeli government had intentionally targeted civilians or intentionally committed war crimes,” she added. (ANI)

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