|Both Israel and Hamas have been accused of war crimes during the conflict in Gaza [GETTY]
The publication two weeks ago of a UN-commissioned report into alleged war crimes during Israel's January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip was always going to be controversial.
Now the diplomatic wrangling over how to respond to its contents is likely to end with the report's key recommendations being ignored.
The study, authored by former South African judge Richard Goldstone, found evidence of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and the Hamas movement.
In particular, it confirmed accounts of Israeli soldiers violating humanitarian laws in the conflict, during which 1400 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed.
But it was what the report recommended, rather than what it alleged, that proved most contentious.
Goldstone called for the body of evidence gathered by his team to be passed to the UN Security Council, which would give each side six months to conduct impartial investigations into the allegations. Failure to do so would mean referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
Israel's angry rejection
Goldstone's conclusions were angrily rejected by Israel, who said that his fact-finding mission had been one-sided and politicised from the start, and had failed to take into account the suffering caused by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel, which killed three civilians during the war.
The Israeli government set out its position on a special web page: "The Human Rights Council has consistently singled out Israel, while failing to address the true violators of human rights. It has devoted more resolutions to condemning Israel, than to all the other countries of the world combined... The Report's recommendations are as one-sided as its findings."
Meanwhile, the report's publication has been welcomed by human rights groups, who have long complained that Israel operates with impunity by obstructing and ignoring investigations into abuses committed by its military.
Goldstone investigated 36 separate incidents that could have constituted war crimes or crimes against humanity, and found evidence of "direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcome."
In contrast, an internal Israeli investigation into the conduct of its troops during the war found they had no case to answer.
|Richard Goldstone says a "culture of impunity" is entrenched in the conflict [AFP]
But while the Goldstone report made headlines, it is less likely to make a difference.
Members of the UN Human Rights Council debated the commission's findings on Tuesday this week, and will spend the rest of the week attempting to draft a resolution on what to do with them, which is expected to be voted on by Friday.
Any resolution will need to reconcile the two opposed positions that emerged following the publication of the report.
Supporters of the report - human rights organisations, pro-Palestinian groups, and Arab and African countries on the Human Rights Council - want it to be endorsed in its entirety.
That means it would be referred to the UN Security Council and then, potentially, on to the ICC.
The Palestinian delegation at the Council has proposed a draft resolution to this effect that they want to see adopted this week.
On the other side, the Israeli government, sympathetic lobbyists and US government officials want to see the report stay in the relatively toothless Human Rights Council, where limited powers mean that no concrete action can be taken.
US officials have already raised "serious concerns" about the report; Michael H Posner, the US representative to the Human Rights Council, reiterated their position earlier in the week:
"We disagree sharply with many of the report's assessments and its recommendations and believe it to be deeply flawed," he said.
"If this standard were applied in every conflict situation around the world where there are alleged violations, then the role of the Human Rights Council would be dramatically different."
Caught in the middle are a group of European countries who recognise that Israel and Hamas may have a case to answer, but are uncomfortable that the mandate of the report focused solely on Israeli abuses during the conflict.
They abstained from voting when the report was commissioned because they believed its findings would be one-sided as a result.
Goldstone himself shared these concerns, and only accepted the role after securing agreement to investigate Hamas as well.
Despite this, the EU countries will not endorse its findings and recommendations in their entirety, but their position in coming days could have a major influence on the language of whatever resolution emerges.
As a result, lobby groups on both sides of the debate have been working overtime to influence the EU member states. But the bloc's representative on the council has refused to align fully with either side, telling the council that the EU recognised the "seriousness" of the report, while failing to endorse its referral to the Security Council.
|The International Criminal Court is unlikely to hear war crimes cases related to the conflict
That could be enough to sink the recommendations.
Human Rights Watch, who wrote to the EU last week urging its members to endorse the report, called the EU position "deeply disappointing" - an indication that an Israeli-US alliance is on the front foot in the negotiating process.
Whatever resolution goes to the vote this week, it is unlikely to contain the binding language of the original report.
The US will seek to co-opt the EU into watering down the resolution so that its most serious implication - a potential ICC summons for Israel after Security Council action - is headed off.
The Palestinian-led bloc, realising that the original resolution is going nowhere, could push for the consolation prize of a weaker resolution that enjoys greater support. But it is not clear upon what the two sides will agree - or if they will at all.
"Everyone is searching for consensus," says Human Right Watch's Gaza specialist Fred Abrahams, who is in Geneva this week.
"It's unclear to what extent the Arab and African states will move to get the US and European states on board. How much they bend on that is yet to be seen."
The diplomatic horse-trading in the next few days will likely have two effects. Firstly, it is probable that the report will be reduced to little more than a contested record of what occurred in Gaza.
But more importantly, some believe that if action is not taken, chances of a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians will slip away.
"The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point," Goldstone told the Human Rights Council earlier this week. "The ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process."
Andrew Wander, a media fellow with legal charity Reprieve, works on Al Jazeera's Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk.