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By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel warned on Friday against bringing before the Security Council a U.N. report charging it with war crimes in the Gaza Strip, a position that diplomats said had the unlikely support of Russia and China.
Moscow and Beijing have signalled they do not want the Security Council to consider the report as they feel it would interfere with the national sovereignty of the Jewish state, said Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.
South African jurist Richard Goldstone's report accuses both Israel and the Islamist group Hamas of war crimes in the Gaza Strip, but is most critical of Israel. Up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the war last December and January.
"If the Goldstone report comes to the Security Council it will damage the option to move forward in the political (peace) process with the Palestinians," Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.
Shalom described the report as "unacceptable and biased."
The U.N. Human Rights Council recently endorsed the report by passing a resolution that singled out Israel for censure without referring to wrongdoing by Hamas. Palestinian officials then called for further U.N. inquiries into Israel's actions.
In his report, Goldstone recommended that the U.N. Security Council refer the war crimes issue to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if the two sides failed to conduct credible domestic investigations within six months.
Shalom said Israel has already investigated allegations against it and it does not need advice on how to handle its internal affairs.
RUSSIA, CHINA, U.S. UNITED ON GOLDSTONE REPORT
Western diplomats said Moscow and Beijing, which have been criticized in the past for their own human rights records, want to avoid the precedent of the council taking up such a report and see it as an issue for the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Americans, they say, oppose the idea of giving Israel's critics another chance to bash the Jewish state in New York.
Ban, who visited Gaza in January, also spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman overnight and emphasized the need for justice and accountability.
"He reiterated his call for a credible domestic investigation by all parties into any allegations of serious human rights violations committed during the conflict," Ban's spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters.
Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libyan's deputy U.N. ambassador, told Reuters the Goldstone report likely would be taken up by the 192-nation U.N. General Assembly, where the Americans, Russians and Chinese have no veto power. Long hostile to Israel, Libya is on the Security Council until the end of the year.
Lieberman also told Ban he hoped the report would not reach the General Assembly.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration pressed Israel and the Palestinians on Thursday to do more to help relaunch long-stalled peace talks after the latest flurry of U.S. diplomacy failed to yield any sign of a breakthrough.
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Chris Wilson)