Netanyahu defies trials for Israeli officials over Gaza war crimes

Israeli PM Netanyahu gave no ground on peace with the Palestinians in a speech.

Netanyahu defies trials for Israeli officials over Gaza war crimes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave no ground on peace with the Palestinians in a speech on Monday.

In the policy speech, Netanyahu again attacked a U.N. report that accused Israel of war crimes in the December-January offensive in Gaza. He said Israel would resist any "attempt" to try its leaders on such charges abroad.

Opening the winter session of parliament, Netanyahu gave no indication that intense efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama to restart Palestine-Israel negotiations suspended since December were making any progress.

"There is no alternative to Palestinian leaders showing courage by recognising the Jewish state," he said.

"This has been and remains the true key to peace."

He made no mention of a main issue holding up a return to talks on Palestinian statehood -- building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank that Palestinians say must stop in accordance with a 2003 peace "road map".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected Netanyahu's recognition demand on the grounds it did not figure in interim agreements and would, Palestinian officials argue, prejudge the outcome of negotiations on the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Speaking only in general terms, Netanyahu told parliament: "We are working to ensure that our efforts with the Obama administration will bring about their resumption soon."

U.N. report said Israel committed war crimes beyond numbers in the 22-day offensive that is launched last December in the Gaza Strip.

The report, issued last month by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, urges the U.N. Security Council to refer war crimes allegations to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if either Israeli or Palestinian authorities fail to investigate those suspected offenses within six months.

"We will not agree to a situation in which Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni, who sent (Israeli) soldiers to defend our cities and citizens, will be summoned as defendants to The Hague," Netanyahu said.

He was referring to Israel's former prime minister, current defence chief and ex-foreign minister.

Palestinian rights group says 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, were killed in the Gaza war.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed during the conflict.

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Ekim 2009, 00:50
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