International prosecutor Judge Richard Goldstone on Thursday rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's claim that pursuing both Israel and Hamas for war crimes would end the Middle East peace process.
During a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Netanyahu had told ministers that Goldstone's UN report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza "strike a fatal blow to the peace process, because Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied."
"I think he got wrong what our report is all about," Goldstone told reporters in Washington. "He talked about Israel's right to self-defense. That is not what the report was about."
Goldstone said international law gives that right to both Israel and the Palestinians. Both sides, he said, violated that law by targeting civilians.
Late Thursday night, meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority agreed to delay until March a vote set for Friday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that would have endorsed the report.
Endorsement would have opened the door for the Security Council to bring Israelis before the International Criminal Court at The Hague for prosecution for either war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon contributed to this report