Published on
Haaretz (Israel)

Israel to Launch Campaign Urging UN to Retract Goldstone Report

Barak Ravid

FILE - In this June 3, 2009, file photo, UN investigator Richard Goldstone visits the destroyed house where members of the Samouni family were killed in an artillery strike during Israel's offensive in January 2009 in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel was planning to launch an international campaign to persuade the United Nations to retract the Goldstone Commission's damning report on the Israel Defense Forces' operation in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu told his cabinet at its weekly meeting that Goldstone's retraction of his conclusion accusing Israel of war crimes was rare and deserving of further action.

"There are very few incidents in which false accusations are taken back, and this is the case with the Goldstone report," Netanyahu told ministers.

The prime minister added that he had asked the new National Security Adviser, Ya'akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on "minimizing the damage caused" by the report.

He added that he was expecting to receive suggestions on how to proceed in the coming days toward efforts to see the report officially retracted.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Goldstone had expressed regret for his accusation that the IDF targeted civilians during the Gaza war.

"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report," Goldstone wrote, adding, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in response to Goldstone's retraction that Israel must force the judge to appear before international forums - particularly the UN - to explain the revision of his account.

"The Gaza front must be dealt with by the international community, as terrorists are fighting from within the civilian populace," the defense minister said.

Barak expressed support for Israel's decision not to cooperate with Goldstone's fact-finding commission on Operation Cast Lead, calling the Commission for Human Rights which sponsored the report a "ridiculous forum of the enemies of Israel".

President Shimon Peres called on Goldstone to apologize for his report, adding that the fact-finding mission had ignored the central reason Israel had gone to war against the Hamas-ruled territory.

Peres defended the IDF as having operated out of self-defense, adding that Israel had carried out an internal probe of its own on the matter.

"Goldstone ignored the main reason for the IDF's operation in Gaza, the firing of thousands of rockets at innocent civilians," said Peres. He also said that the IDF would continue to serve as one of the most moral armies in the world.

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