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U.S. ambassador skips Goldstone debate

(JTA) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations did not attend a General Assembly discussion of the Goldstone report.

Susan Rice sent her deputy, Alejandro Wolff, to hear the speeches Wednesday by the ambassadors of the European Union and Israel.

Wolff declined to speak as the General Assembly began meeting on a nonbinding resolution put forth by Arab states calling on Israel and Hamas to investigate the report’s allegations that the two sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during last winter’s Gaza war.

Some 43 speakers have asked to address the assembly, whose session will continue Thursday and could stretch into Friday before a vote is taken. The resolution is expected to pass.

If investigations are not initiated within three months of the resolution’s passage, the report would be sent on to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The resolution also calls on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to refer the report to the Security Council.

At least 23 incidents that occurred during Israel’s military offensive are under criminal investigation in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday, citing Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the B’Tselem human rights group.

Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the international body Wednesday that the report was "conceived in hate and executed in sin."

"From its inception in a one-sided mandate, the Gaza fact-finding mission was a politicized body with predetermined conclusions," she said. "The report makes sweeping judicial determinations of criminal wrongdoing in the absence of crucial information. It makes explosive charges against Israel, yet the evidence provided to support such accusations is at best uncorroborated and at worst false. In certain cases, the report makes conclusions based upon the absence of evidence to the contrary."

The report also has been referred to the U.N. Security Council by the Human Rights Council, which commissioned it.

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