The Goldstone Report is “biased, one-sided and deceptive,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday as he once again expressed opposition to the establishment of a commission of inquiry into Operation Cast Lead last winter.
According to Barak, the letter that Israel sent to the United Nations on Friday would likely have an impact on Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon’s decision on whether to pass the Goldstone Report on to the General Assembly.
“The need for probes after the operation is so we can carry out the operation better the next time,” Barak said. “I do not think that there is a need for a commission of inquiry. We can suffice with a panel of jurists instead.”
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi also voiced opposition to an inquiry commission and said that the IDF was capable of probing itself. “We need to deal with the challenges the Goldstone Report creates for us but not with the establishment of an inquiry commission,” he said.
Barak’s support for the establishment of a judicial review was first reported in The Jerusalem Post
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On Monday, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, whose recent critique of the Goldstone Report alleged evidentiary bias by the investigators, told the Post
that he had been contacted by Israeli officials.
However, Dershowitz indicated his reluctance to participate in the panel because, he said, any probe should remain internal and be done by Israelis themselves.
“I would have to be persuaded. Right now, I’m not persuaded,” he said, adding that the investigation should be done “by Israelis of Israelis.”
“I think it would send the wrong message to have outsiders playing a major role. That is what’s wrong with the Goldstone Report,” he said. He commented that he would gladly contribute advice and input, but said: “I think it kind of undercuts Israel’s sovereignty to play too much of a role.”
Dershowitz made reference to his own public criticism of Goldstone, whom he called a “traitor” and an “evil man” during an interview with Army Radio.
“I have expressed my views, and I want to continue to express my views,” Dershowitz told the Post
. “The difference, of course, is [that] I formed my views about Goldstone and the report after the report, whereas the people who served on the Goldstone commission formed their views before they did any investigation. Mine are informed views based on facts.”
He said there are several ways Israel could investigate its actions during Operation Cast Lead, including a quasi-judicial review conducted by the military or an independent investigation where investigators have subpoena power. “As to those two, that’s inherently an issue that Israelis have to decide,” he said, adding that he would push for an independent investigation that goes beyond the military itself.
“The reason for that is not Goldstone,” he remarked, “Israelis care deeply about their military. They’re entitled to answers.”
Meanwhile Monday, IDF officers expressed disappointment with OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s decision to reprimand Brig.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg, commander of the Gaza Division, and Col. Ilan Malka, commander of the Givati Brigade during the operation, for permitting artillery fire near a UN compound in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of southern Gaza City during Cast Lead.
and two other
newspapers published the report of the reprimanding, which appeared in
Israel’s letter to the UN on Monday. The disapproval of the officers
though, sources said, took place more than six months ago and was
likely covered up by the IDF until the Foreign Ministry decided to
include it inside the letter to the UN.
One officer familiar with the incident said that the decision to
reprimand Eizenberg and Malka was made by Ashkenazi and Military
Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit.
“These officers were sacrificed for Goldstone,” he said.