Top UN officials are eagerly awaiting an Israeli rebuttal to the Goldstone Report, which could come as early as Thursday.
months, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been calling for
independent investigations by Hamas and Israel, which refused to
cooperate with what Israeli officials called a one-sided and biased
investigation headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.
But Israel is said to be putting the finishing touches on a
rebuttal, which is expected to refute the Goldstone Report's central
charge: that IDF personnel targeted civilians with disproportionate
force during last winter's offensive in Gaza.
"The secretary-general, as you know, has asked for the
appropriate parties to comment on the Goldstone Report and we've
requested Israel's comments," Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the
secretary-general, told reporters at a noon press briefing.
will be looking at their response when we receive it. Of course,
whenever there are allegations of serious human rights violations
anywhere in the world, serious investigations should follow."
Israel is also considering having an investigative panel to examine internal IDF investigations of Operation Cast Lead.
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday asked a
five-member body to investigate alleged human rights violations by his
own security forces in the West Bank. The panel was appointed in
response to the Goldstone Report.
According to the Goldstone document, PA security forces have
been cracking down on Hamas in the West Bank since 2007, and the forces
committed human rights violations.
On Monday, American diplomats said the US has sought credible
investigations from both sides. Regarding Israel's anticipated rebuttal
to the Goldstone Report, one Western diplomat said: "Clearly, if the
Israelis want to respond to it or give a reaction, that's probably a
The diplomat said it was hard to speculate further until the Israeli report arrives.
The United States expressed serious reservations about the UN report, which Goldstone first presented in September.
Sources said the Israeli document would portray a starkly different view of Operation Cast Lead than the Goldstone Report did.
In broad strokes, the new report will argue that any errors made
by the IDF were not criminal. Rather, they reflect the challenge Israel
faces in fighting an armed group that regularly infiltrates and mixes
in with a civilian population.
Further details of the rebuttal remain secret, but it will
include photographic evidence that Israel did not intentionally destroy
Gaza's Bader flour mill, according to a report published in Monday's New York Times
It will also assert that Israel had nothing to do with the
collapse of a wastewater plant, rather, that the plant may have been
destroyed by Hamas explosives.
During a visit to New York on Monday, Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein was set to meet with Ban.
A spokesman for Edelstein said the minister planned to say the
Goldstone Report was "anti-Semitic, it's outrageous and has a lot of
half-truths and lies," the spokesman said.
"He will tell Ban Ki-moon that the Israeli report will be a
good answer to the Goldstone Report and will prove that the Goldstone
Report had a lot of lies and was not objective."
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General
Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi are pushing for a judicial panel to
review internal IDF investigations of alleged wrongdoing during
Operation Cast Lead last winter.
Seen as a compromise between those calling for an independent
investigation, and those who say the IDF can investigate itself, the
panel would be headed by an internationally respected jurist, but it
would not have the authority to question soldiers or officers.
"The idea is not to establish a committee like the Winograd
Commission after the Second Lebanon War in 2006 but to have a panel of
jurists review the internal IDF probes and to give their opinion on
them," a senior defense official told the Post
It is not clear such an investigative panel would satisfy those
calling for Israel to be further investigated for alleged wrongdoings.
But US officials have expressed support for an Israeli investigation.
"Israel is a democracy and has the institutions to do a credible investigation," one source said on Monday.
"We certainly believe Israel is quite capable of doing a
substantive and serious internal investigation about what happened. So
we have faith in the Israeli institutions."
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