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US Ambassador Rice calls for end to 'anti-Israeli vitriol' at the UN

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-21

On a visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (left) called for an end to "anti-Israel vitriol" at the UN, where a Gaza war crimes report will come under debate.

AFP - US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called on Wednesday for an end to "anti-Israel vitriol" at the United Nations, where the General Assembly is expected to debate a Gaza war crimes report.

"Member states must once and for all replace anti-Israeli vitriol with recognition of Israel's legitimacy and right to exist in peace and security," she said at a conference in Jerusalem organised by President Shimon Peres.

She also stressed Washington's commitment to fighting extremism.

"We will stand by our friends on the frontlines and we will uphold the inalienable right to self-defence," she said.

She made no direct mention of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war which concluded that both Israel and the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US position on the report during an hour-long meeting with Rice, his office said.

"The prime minister thanked Rice for the Obama administration's vigorous opposition to the Goldstone report and its ongoing support (of Israel) at the United Nations," the statement said.

It said Rice reiterated Washington's commitment to Israel's security and its determination to advance peace in the region.

Rice earlier met Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

On Tuesday, she held talks with Peres during which the two addressed the question of the Goldstone report, officials said.

The UN General Assembly is expected to discuss the report by the South African former international war crimes prosecutor by the end of the year after it was endorsed by the Human Rights Council.

Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the 22-day Gaza conflict that Israel launched on December 27 in response to rocket fire from the territory.

Goldstone recommended referring the report's conclusions to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations within six months.

Israel called the endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council a "diplomatic farce" and said it harmed Middle East peace efforts.

But the Palestinians welcomed the resolution which they said should result in follow-up action by the UN Security Council.

Goldstone himself rejected the Israeli argument, saying there was currently no peace process to save.

Rice was expected to meet Palestinian leaders on Thursday in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Date created : 2009-10-22