US plotting strategy to have Goldstone report withdrawn

Rice: Report "gravely, fundamentally flawed", "unfairly drew conclusions"; indicates US nearly certain to boycott "Durban III" conference.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
April 8, 2011 01:58
3 minute read.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice 311 . (photo credit: Reuters/ Jim Young)

 
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WASHINGTON – The US is consulting with allies at the United Nations to work to end any consideration of the Goldstone Report by the international body, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said on Thursday.

The US has long been opposed to the report’s accusations that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in its war just over two years ago against Hamas, but has added momentum in its push to see the report shelved since its presiding jurist Richard Goldstone last Friday reconsidered his findings.

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“The United States has been clear from the outset that we believe that report was gravely and fundamentally flawed, that it completely unfairly drew conclusions about Israel’s intentions and conduct,” Rice told the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, adding that the Obama administration would like “to see this entire Goldstone proposition disappear.”

To that end, the US has been discussing what procedural steps could be taken, including halting followup actions against Israel being considered at the Security Council and other venues on the basis of the report.

Rice noted that the specific tactics had yet to be determined.

She also indicated the US was all but certain to boycott the 10-year anniversary commemoration of the 2001 Durban Conference, dubbed “Durban III,” to be held during the opening of the UN General Assembly in September.

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Rice cited US “frustration” that the recent “Durban II” conference in Geneva contained problematic positions with regard to Israel – as had the first Durban conference – and noted that the US saw little indication that would change.

“We are deeply concerned, both by its likely content and its timing, and that is why the United States opposed the resolution establishing this commemorative conference,” she said. “I don’t anticipate that our posture will change.”

During her testimony, Rice stressed that “the United States every day stands firmly and unequivocally in support of our ally Israel in the United Nations, where as we all know it often comes under illegitimate and unfair attacks simply for existing.”

She continued, “We do so because it is in our national interest, because it accords with our values and principles and because it is manifestly the right thing to do.”

Despite her words, Rice came under attack from some Republican members of Congress who felt the statement she made explaining the US veto of a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction was hostile to Israel.

“While we agree with our fellow council members – and indeed, with the wider world – about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” Rice said in her concluding statement at the Security Council explaining the US veto. “We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee, described the statement as “essentially throwing our good friend and ally Israel to the wolves.”

He called it an “astonishing explanation of vote that not only did not support Israel but actually joined in the criticism.”

He pointed to many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who were disappointed by the criticism and felt the statement “undid all the good that had been done by its veto.”

Rice took strong exception to his comments.

“The explanation of vote restated long-standing US policy of six prior consecutive administrations opposing settlement policy,” she said. “We stood strongly against the resolution.

We vetoed it, and if there’s any ambiguity in a veto, I don’t know what it is.”

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