Peres to ask UN to shelve Goldstone report

According to officials, president will make request in person when he meets with Ban Ki-moon in NY; US envoy Rice doubts report can be fixed.

President Shimon Peres in Switzerland 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
President Shimon Peres in Switzerland 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
President Shimon Peres plans to ask the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip two years ago.
According to Israeli officials, Peres will make the request when he meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday.
Peres asks US lawmakers to aid ‘Arab Spring’
Our World: Richard Goldstone and Palestinian statehood
McGowan Davis: Our report on the Cast Lead probes stands
Opinion: Goldstone’s example
Prior to that meeting, he is scheduled to speak with ambassadors from the member states of the UN Security Council, which has the power to refer the Goldstone Report to the International Criminal Court.
Peres’s New York visit comes after the report’s author, Judge Richard Goldstone, published an opinion piece in last Friday’s Washington Post in which he said the document had erroneously accused Israel of intentionally targeting civilians in Gaza.
A spokesman for the UN’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC), which commissioned the report, has said the opinion piece would have no impact on the status of the report, which was submitted in 2009.
If Goldstone wanted to change the report, the spokesman said, he would need to submit a formal letter to the council in the name of all four members of the fact-finding mission that worked on it. Alternately, a UN member state could move to rescind the report, mostly likely by bringing a resolution to that effect before the Security Council or the General Assembly.
Last month, the HRC passed a resolution in which it asked the General Assembly to endorse the report for a second time and pass it on to the Security Council for possible referral of the situation of the “occupied Palestinian territories” to the International Criminal Court.
The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told a congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday that the US would work to have the report rescinded at the UN.
“I’m not sure it can be amended,” Rice said.
“What we want to see is for it to disappear and no longer be a subject of discussion and debate in the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly or beyond.”
Rice told lawmakers the US repudiated the Goldstone report as “deeply flawed” when it first emerged.
“We see no need... for the Goldstone Report to be considered, and now that its principal author has said what he said, frankly our view is reinforced that this should go away and that’s what we’ll work to do,” she said.
Rice added that Washington saw no evidence at the time that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians or committed war crimes.
Israel has shown an ability to investigate concerns about the conflict, “quite in contrast with Hamas,” she said.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Goldstone said that in spite of his reassessment, he had no intention of asking the UN to change or rescind the report.
“As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel,” he said. “Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.”
Goldstone confirmed he had spoken on Monday with Interior Minister Eli Yishai and accepted his invitation to visit Israel.
He added that he was likely to come in July.
“I ended the conversation by expressing my love for Israel,” Goldstone told AP.
The two men were able to speak with each other over the phone with the help of former UN ambassador Dan Gillerman, who acted as translator.
Hilary Leila Krieger and Reuters contributed to this report.