The demand was based on the findings of a commission headed by former South African judge Richard Goldstone that accused both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during their Dec. 27-Jan. 18 war.
Israelthe commission's report, calling it "one-sided, biased and therefore wrong."
Thebecame the focus of the Security Council's monthly Mideast meeting on Wednesday after an about-face by the Palestinians.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki and Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev opened the council meeting Wednesday by trading accusations about the Goldstone report. The session ended Wednesday evening after nearly 50 speeches.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority traded barbs on who is sabotaging the peace process. Israel blamed the Palestinian focus on the Goldstone report on Israeli actions in Gaza last winter. The Palestinian foreign minister blamed Israeli settlements - making it clear that the peace process remained stalled," said CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk at the U.N.
The U.N. Human Rights Council commissioned the report and took it up in early October, but Palestinian diplomats agreed to delay consideration until March under heavy pressure from the United States. The U.S. feared it would jeopardize attempts to revive the Mideast peace process.
The call for a delay sparked scathing criticism of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and led the Palestinians to reverse course, first seeking an emergency Security Council meeting and then seeking to reopen the Human Rights Council debate, which will happen on Thursday.
The Goldstone report concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeted civilians, used Palestinians as human shields, and destroyed civilian infrastructure during its incursion into Gaza to root out Palestinian rocket squads.
It accused Palestinian armed groups of deliberately targeting civilians and trying to spread terror through its rocket attacks on southern Israel. Hamas, the Palestinian Authority's main rival, controls Gaza and most armed groups in the territory.
"There was no expected action out of the Security Council meeting on Wednesday since the Obama Administration had said it would veto any attempt to refer the allegations of Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court," Falk said.
Al-Malki said "the savage Israeli military aggression" exhibited "a callous disregard for human life" and deliberately destroyed thousands of homes, schools, mosques and industrial and agricultural facilities.
He called the report "another wake-up call to the international community that must not be ignored," adding that "the credibility and foundations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as of the U.N. as a whole, is at stake."
Israel's Shalev countered that the report "favors and legitimizes terrorism."
She insisted that "it denies Israel's right to defend its citizens. ... It permits terrorists to victimize civilians, target the innocent, and use as human shields those it claims to defend."
Shalev accused the world of "doing nothing" about Hamas' smuggling of Iranian arms into Gaza, its launching of attacks from schools, mosques and hospitals, or its firing if 12,000 rockets against innocent Israeli civilians.
And she accused Libya - the only Arab member on the council - of trying to "hijack" its agenda by raising the Goldstone report, noting that three weeks ago Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called the Security Council a "terror council."
The report recommended that the Security Council require both sides to carry out credible investigations within three months into alleged abuses during the conflict - in which 13 Israelis and almost 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed - and to follow that up with action in their courts.
If either side refuses, the investigators recommended that the Security Council refer the evidence for prosecution by the International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, within six months.
France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud called the allegations in the report "grave indeed" and urged both parties to conduct independent investigations that meet international standards. Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers expressed regret that Israel refused to cooperate with the commission and urged the Israeli government "to carry out full, credible and impartial investigations."
The draft resolution to be considered at this week's Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva would condemn Israel's failure to cooperate with Goldstone's fact-finding mission and endorse the report's recommendations. The draft calls on the U.N. and other bodies to ensure implementation of the recommendations, calls on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report to the council on the status of implementation, and asks the General Assembly to take up the Goldstone report in the current session.
The Human Rights Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Friday, and approval will likely return the issue to the Security Council.
But council diplomats say there is little chance that the Security Council will take any action, primarily because of objections by the United States, Israel's closest ally, which said the report should be handled by the Human Rights Council.
U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff reiterated Wednesday that the report and "the allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations ... are not a matter for Security Council action."
He also criticized what he termed "its unbalanced focus on Israel."
Wolff said Israel has the institutions to seriously investigate the allegations "and we encourage it to do so." On the other hand, he added: "Hamas is a terrorist organization and has neither the ability nor the willingness to examine its violations of human rights."