Barak at war ceremony298.
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Israeli diplomats stationed around the world said Friday that world leaders welcomed Israel's letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon detailing an IDF probe conducted in the wake of the Goldstone Commission report, but said the world might insist on an independent investigation by Israel outside the framework of the military, Israel Radio reported.
Israel's answer [to the Goldstone report] is good, but should be accompanied by an investigation conducted outside of the security establishment, the station quoted diplomats as saying.
In Jerusalem, officials were weighing the possibility to appoint an independent commission of inquiry as early as next week.
Such a commission, Israel Radio reported, would likely be headed by a senior judge or other top official.
Finance Minister yuval Steinitz proposed already several months ago that such an investigation be undertaken by the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, since this body was most knowledgeable about the issues at hand and would also know the publication of which issues may or may not harm the security interests of the state.
Earlier on Friday, the Israeli
government delivered a report detailing the IDF investigations
into allegations of misconduct
during Operation Cast Lead last winter, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
“I think this
report again illustrates that the IDF is a uniquely responsible and serious
military, that operates in a moral and accurate manner even under impossible
conditions,” Barak said on Friday afternoon.
Report is a distorted, false and biased report,” he assertd.
The 40-page “letter” was delivered to Ban,
explaining the independence of Israel’s
legal system, and the efficacy of the justice system in the military.
Diplomatic officials stressed that this letter is not
the IDF’s answer to the Goldstone Commission report. The IDF rebuttal is
currently being completed, will number more than 1,000 pages and will answer
point-by-point all the allegations in the Goldstone Report.
Rather, the letter handed over on Friday was meant to spell out for Ban how the
IDF investigated allegations of misconduct during Cast Lead, pointing out that ’s system
of military justice compares with that in other democratic countries and is
independent, and that the IDF’s investigations are serious.
The UN General Assembly endorsed the Goldstone Report in November, giving both and
Hamas until February 5 to open independent investigations into their actions
and report back to the secretary-general.
Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi modified their
objections this week to the establishment of any independent commission, coming
around to the idea of setting up a judicial investigative panel to review
internal IDF investigations and determine whether they were thorough enough and
lived up to accepted legal standards.
While Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
have come out in favor of some kind of independent inquiry, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu has not made his position on the matter known. He is
reportedly coming under intense political pressure from Barak not to agree to
an independent committee of inquiry that could independently question officers
There is some speculation that the issue could come before either the cabinet
or the security cabinet next week.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, during a visit to this week, said Israel would not set up a special
investigative panel to look into the IDF’s conduct.
The Palestinians submitted their own response, written by an
independent commission appointed several days ago by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The preliminary report was submitted to the Secretary-General’s office on
Friday, according to the Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Mansour dodged questions
concerning whether the report acknowledged wrongdoing by the Palestinian side
during the war. “There is no symmetry between the occupying power, Israel, and
their criminal actions… and any actions that may have been committed by the Palestinian
side, those who live under occupation,” he said.
He said the commission appointed by Abbas would conduct a “very
independent and credible investigation” in the coming months. Asked how the
commission and its preliminary report could be credible if it does not include
Hamas’ point of view, Mansour said: “Whatever we do internally as Palestinians,
these are internal issues.” He added, “It is up to us to see how we can deal
with our investigations without allowing anyone to try to deepen our divisions.”