Goldstone Rejects Bias Charges Over UN Gaza Report

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Agence France Presse

Goldstone Rejects Bias Charges Over UN Gaza Report

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Head of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, former South African judge Richard Goldstone gestures during a press conference in July at the UN office in Geneva. Goldstone, whose commission issued a damning report on the Gaza war this week, on Thursday rejected Israeli criticism that it was biased from the start. (AFP/File/Fabrice Coffrini)

JERUSALEM - The head of the UN commission that issued a damning report on the Gaza war this week on Thursday rejected Israeli criticism that it was biased from the start.

"I deny that completely," Judge Richard Goldstone said in remarks broadcast on Thursday on public radio, a replay of an earlier interview with Israeli television.

"I was completely independent, nobody dictated any outcome, and the outcome was a result of the independent inquiries that our mission made," he said.

The UN report, which Goldstone presented at the UN on Tuesday and which accused both Israel and Palestinian militants of committing war crimes, has faced stinging criticism in Israel for being one-sided and biased.

But Goldstone, former chief prosecutor on the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, rejected the charges and said the only thing he regretted was that Israel refused to cooperate with his team.

"There is really nothing I can think of that I would do differently," he said.

"If there is any difference that I would have preferred, (it) would have been that we could have got cooperation from Israel and in particular, I would have liked the Israeli government to assist us and decide what we should investigate because that's what I asked them to do."

In the wake of the UN report, numerous Israeli commentators have launched personal attacks on Goldstone, with one rightwing paper writing: "the liberal anti-Semitism strides delicately, appoints a hostile commission and finds an obsequious Jew, to dance to the tune of the gentile landowner."

Goldstone, 70, is a South African judge who has also headed the public inquiry into violence and intimidation in the run-up to that country's first post-apartheid elections in 1994.

The impartial inquiry, which became known as the Goldstone Commission, was widely credited with preventing South Africa's slide into widespread violence with the demise of the whites-only apartheid regime.

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