Three co-authors of the Goldstone Report on Gaza said on Thursday they stood
firmly behind their work and rejected recent calls to reconsider or retract the
“The report of the  fact-finding mission contains the
conclusions made after diligent, independent and objective consideration of the
information related to the events within our mandate, and careful assessment of
its reliability and credibility,” they said. “We firmly stand by these
conclusions,” the trio wrote in a letter they published in The Guardian
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The three mission members, attorney Hina Jilani of Pakistan,
Prof. Christine Chinkin of Britain (she also holds Australian citizenship), and
Col. (ret.) Desmond Travers of Ireland, spoke out after their former chairman,
Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post
1 saying that “if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would
have been a different document.”
In that piece, Goldstone wrote that the
report erroneously accused Israel of intentionally targeting civilians in Gaza
during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009.
wrote that he concurred with a follow-up UN report that stated that Israel had
investigated, transparently and in good faith, allegations made in the Goldstone
Report, while Hamas “has done nothing.”
Israeli diplomatic officials said
they were not surprised by the letter from Goldstone’s former colleagues. “We
had low expectations, and they were met,” one Foreign Ministry official
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other political leaders used
Goldstone’s piece in the Washington Post to call on the UN to scrap the report,
even though Goldstone later told The Associated Press he had no intention of
making such a request.
Still, the three members other members of his
committee wrote on Thursday that they felt it was important to lay to rest any
They did not reference Goldstone by name in their letter.
“Members of the mission, signatories to this statement, find it necessary to
dispel any impression that subsequent developments have rendered any part of the
mission’s report unsubstantiated, erroneous or inaccurate,” they
They noted that both the UN Human Rights Council and the General
Assembly had endorsed the document.
“We concur in our view that there is
no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report
as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context,
findings or conclusions,” they wrote.
They said that neither the Israelis
nor the Palestinians had provided evidence that contradicted the report’s
The two-member UN panel lead by Judge Mary McGowan Davis of
the US, which monitored compliance with the Goldstone Report, had similarly not
provided any information that invalidated the document, the mission members
They chastised both Israel and the Palestinians for failing to
comply with the report’s conclusions, even as they acknowledged that the IDF had
opened 400 “command inquiries” into wrongdoings, out of which 52 led to criminal
There was, however, no indication that Israel had opened
an investigation into the actions of those who designed, planned and oversaw
Operation Cast Lead, they said.
“In other words, one of the most serious
allegations about the conduct of Israel’s military operations remains completely
unaddressed,” they wrote.
“We regret that no domestic investigations at
all have been started into any of the allegations of international crimes
committed by members of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza which have fired
thousands of rockets into southern Israel,” they said.
Since the UN Human
Rights Council asked them to prepare the report in 2009, they had been pressured
with regard to their work and endured personal attacks, they said.
consider that calls to reconsider or even retract the report... disregard the
right of victims, Palestinian and Israeli, to truth and justice,” they
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel’s “view of the
Goldstone Report, the process by which the committee was established and how the
findings have been handled,” had been, and remained, very critical.
whole process was deeply tainted by bias, extremism and profoundly flawed
methodology,” Palmor said. “And the handling of the report by the UN Human
Rights Council was an extraordinary manifestation of politicized hypocrisy and
Palmor said Israel conducted its investigations into
Operation Cast Lead on its own initiative and without the need of prompting or
advice from any foreign body. “These investigations, and the transparency with
which the findings were presented, are the best answer to critics wherever they
The Foreign Ministry, which from the outset was opposed to
high-profile statements calling for the withdrawal of the document, is
continuing to work through diplomatic and legal channels to see how Goldstone’s
change of mind could be leveraged to Israel’s benefit.
there are efforts to see whether it might be possible for UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki moon, who has been mandated with issuing a follow-up report on the
Goldstone Commission findings and their implementation, to recommend ending
dealing with the matter.
There is no expectation, however, that the UN is
about to retract the report.
Likewise, Israeli legal and diplomatic
officials are using the op-ed piece in countries where there is universal
jurisdiction, to show that even Goldstone recognizes that Israel is capable of