WASHINGTON - The endorsement of the Goldstone Report by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) does not necessarily mean that it will be reviewed by the Security Council, US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Friday.
Earlier, the UNHRC voted to refer the report to the Security Council, possibly setting up international prosecution of Israelis and Palestinians accused of war crimes.
The report accused both Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas of committing war crimes in Gaza in their December-January conflict.
Kelly told reporters in Washington that the resolution had "an unbalanced focus and we're concerned that it will exacerbate polarization and divisiveness."
US diplomat Douglas M. Griffiths told the council that Washington was disappointed with the outcome, in which the report was endorsed by a vote of 25-6. The United States and five European countries — Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia and Ukraine - opposed the resolution, while 11 mostly European and African countries abstained. Britain, France and three other members of the 47-nation body declined to vote.
Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, were among those voting yes.
"We're focused on moving forward in the peace process and we feel that this is a distraction from that," Griffiths told The Associated Press.
American officials said the resolution will hinder efforts by the Obama Administration to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The US, and apparently Britain and France was well, will look to prevent a Security Council debate on the Goldstone Report.
'Draft resolution saddens me'
The 575-page document concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeted civilians, used Palestinians as human shields and destroyed civilian infrastructure during its incursion into the Gaza Strip to root out Palestinian rocket squads.
It also accused Palestinian armed groups including Hamas, which controls Gaza, of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through years of rocket attacks on southern Israel.
The report recommends that the 15-member Security Council require both sides in the conflict to show within six months that they are carrying out independent and impartial investigations into alleged abuses.
If they are not, the matter should be referred to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, the report says.
Officials in Washington estimated that the US will exercise its veto power if the Goldstone Report is brought to a Security Council vote.
The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying the UNHRC resolution was "regrettable" and "premature." France's representatives at the council left the meeting shortly before voting began.
Meanwhile, Richard Goldstone himself, who was in Bern for a conference Thursday, also criticized the UN Council resolution for targeting only Israel and failing to include Hamas.
The UN resolution is peppered with references to "recent Israeli violations of human rights in occupied east Jerusalem" but failed to make any direct mention to Hamas.
"This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope that the council can modify the text," said Goldstone in remarks published in Swiss newspaper Le Temps ahead of the vote.
AP, AFP contributed to the report