LONDON – The British government said on Monday that it does not support calls for a retraction of the Goldstone Report after its lead author distanced himself from the report’s main allegations.

In an opinion piece in Friday’s Washington Post, Judge Richard Goldstone indicated that Israel had not deliberately targeted civilians or committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead two winters ago.

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“Justice Goldstone has not made such a call [to retract the report], and he has not elaborated on his views surrounding the various other allegations contained in the report, allegations which we firmly believe require serious follow- up by the parties to the conflict,” a Foreign Office spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday night.

The British government said that while Goldstone’s acknowledgment was important, his was not the only report on the 22-day conflict.

“Allegations of breaches of International Humanitarian Law made against all parties to the Gaza conflict are not limited to the Goldstone Report and have arisen from certain other credible organizations. We firmly believe that any and all such allegations must be met with credible and independent investigations by the parties to the conflict,” the spokesman said.

Responding to Goldstone’s claim that if he’d “known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” the spokesman said it was the report that set up a process that allowed for clarity and accountability into the conflict.

“Justice Goldstone makes clear in his recent comments that the Goldstone Report would have looked differently if it had been produced now, on the basis of fresh evidence released by a committee of independent experts, tasked to follow-up on the Goldstone Report. This latest insight into the events surrounding the Gaza conflict have come about because of the process that was set in train by his fact-finding mission.”

The Foreign Office spokesman pointed out that other than conceding that Israel had not targeted civilians deliberately, Goldstone did not elaborate on other allegations; hence Britain’s belief that these allegations be investigated independently.

“This is absolutely consistent with our longstanding policy calling for independent investigations,” he said. “Justice Goldstone does not elaborate on his views on the various other allegations made against Israel in his report and does not call for its retraction. We continue to believe that it is important these allegations are investigated independently.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Goldstone’s recantation, saying it accorded with the conclusions of Col. Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, concerning IDF measures to avoid civilian casualties “even though Hamas was at the same time deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way.”

The Board added that Goldstone’s op-ed piece “reinforces Israel’s right to self-defense” and notes that “Israel, like any sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within.... We would call on those who were so quick to use the report as a stick to beat Israel, now to acknowledge publicly that they were mistaken.”

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