Israel and Palestinians urged to cooperate with UN mission
Amnesty International has said that both the Israeli and Palestinian sides must fully cooperate with the UN's fact-finding mission. The mission is looking into possible war crimes and international law violations committed during the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. "The victims of this brutal conflict have a right to justice and reparation. The perpetrators on both sides must be held accountable if there is to be an end to the cycles of violence and impunity that have persisted for so long," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. "There must be no excuse for either Israel or the Palestinians not to fully cooperate with the inquiry." The newly appointed Chair, Justice Richard J. Goldstone, and the President of the Human Rights Council recently acknowledged that the mission can only credibly fulfil its mandate by also examining the violations of international law committed by Palestinian armed groups. "By expressly acknowledging the need to investigate the alleged violations committed by all parties to the conflict, Richard Goldstone and the president of the UN Human Rights Council have underscored the mission's independence and greatly enhanced its credibility," Malcolm Smart said. The independent international fact-finding mission, whose members have now been appointed, was created by the UN Human Rights Council at its ninth special session on 12 January 2009. Its mandate was to investigate alleged violations of international law by Israeli forces, but it failed to mention those by the other side. Amnesty International said that, having failed to set up an inquiry itself, the UN Security Council must now insist that all parties fully cooperate with the international fact-finding mission and that no party must be allowed to undermine the investigation. In addition, the organization said that UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon must ensure the report of the Board of Inquiry looking into Israeli attacks on UN staff and facilities in Gaza, due to be submitted to him on Tuesday, is promptly transmitted to the UN Security Council and that its findings and recommendations are made public. The UN Board of Inquiry was established by the UN Secretary-General on 12 February 2009, with limited terms of reference to investigate attacks on UN personnel and buildings in Gaza.