A divided United Nations Security Council will meet next week to
discuss a U.N. report that alleges Israeli and Palestinian militants
committed war crimes during Israel's December offensive in the Gaza
The council agreed on Wednesday to advance its monthly meeting on the Middle East by six days to October 14 and focus on the Gaza probe, at the request of Libya.
The decision comes just days after the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council deferred a vote on the war crimes report to March. The postponement caused an uproar in the West Bank and Gaza.
The U.S. deputy ambassador to the U.N. (Alejandro Wolff) told reporters the Gaza report is not the focus of next week's meeting, and reiterated the U.S. position on the report, calling it "flawed, one-sided" and "unacceptable.
But Arab ambassadors said Wednesday they would make the report the focus of the debate next week.
A U.S. State Department spokesman (Ian Kelly) said Thursday the United States wants to defer discussion of the report so it will not become an impediment to the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
U.S. officials say the Gaza probe should be discussed in the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The report accuses Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during Israel's offensive in Gaza early this year. Former South African judge Richard Goldstone prepared the document for the U.N.
Goldstone's report said Israel failed to take precautions required by international law to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life. He also said there was no doubt Palestinian militants fired rockets and mortars into Israel with the goal of harming civilians.
Fighting in Gaza killed some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Israel says its offensive was intended to stop Hamas militants from firing rockets into Israel.