Palestinians say UN probe will prove Israel war crimes

Caracas (AFP) - Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Tuesday a probe by the UN Human Rights Council will prove Israel committed war crimes and violated humanitarian law during its Gaza offensive.

Speaking after Israel complained that the inquiry was biased, Maliki said the Palestinians were confident in the commission, set up last month after the top UN human rights body adopted a Palestinian-drafted resolution over US opposition.

"We have full confidence that this commission is going to do everything to demonstrate that Israel has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity in its attack on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip," Maliki told journalists in the Venezuelan capital as he arrived for an official visit.

"We are going to cooperate with this commission when it arrives in Palestine," he added.

"We know Israel won't allow it to enter the West Bank and we will seek alternatives so that the commission can carry out its mission."

Earlier, Israel attacked the man named to lead the inquiry, Canadian lawyer William Schabas, as anti-Israeli.

"This commission's anti-Israeli conclusions have already been written, all it needs is a signature," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8 to halt cross-border rocket fire. On the Israeli side, 67 people have been killed, mostly soldiers.

Maliki also saw off a shipment of humanitarian aid from Venezuela, which has backed the Palestinian cause since the late socialist president Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999.

The shipment was flown to Egypt on a Venezuelan air force plane to be taken overland to Gaza.