By HERB KEINONPublished: OCTOBER 21, 2009 02:54Advertisement
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu directed the relevant ministries on Tuesday to look into ways of launching an international initiative to change the laws of war to deal with the modern-day scourge of terrorism.
This new initiative comes fast on the heels of the Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of war crimes for its military operation in the Gaza Strip against Hamas earlier this year.
At a meeting of the security cabinet that focused on the report and its ramifications, Netanyahu said Israel's challenge was "to delegitimize the continuous attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel."
"The most important arena where we need to act in this context is in the arena of public opinion, which is crucial in the democratic world. We must continue to debunk this lie that is spreading with the help of the Goldstone report," Netanyahu said.
"In Lebanon, in Gaza and in other places, weapons are being piled up around us with the sole aim of firing them at the citizens of the State of Israel," he continued. "I want to make it clear to everyone: No one will undermine our ability and right to defend our children, our citizens and our communities."
Netanyahu said that such a new initiative was necessary to keep up with the spread of terrorism throughout the world, according to a statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office.
In addition, the security cabinet instructed the Justice Ministry to establish a unit to handle legal proceedings taking place overseas against the State of Israel or its citizens. The new unit will be established in the Justice Ministry in coordination with the attorney-general and the state attorney.
The security cabinet was briefed by Foreign Ministry, Military Intelligence and National Security Council representatives on the Goldstone Report.
One issue critical to Israel's dealing with the Goldstone report was not discussed on Tuesday, but is likely to be discussed at the security cabinet's next meeting: whether Israel should set up a judicial commission to look into various allegations stemming from Operation Cast Lead.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, is adamantly opposed to such a committee, and reportedly blocked attempts by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz to bring the matter to the security cabinet on Tuesday. Barak reportedly said in the cabinet meeting that such a body was not needed, since the IDF was capable of investigating itself.
Those in favor of setting up such a body maintain that by doing so, Israel would prevent itself from possibly being hauled before the International Criminal Court in The Hague on war crimes charges, since the ICC does not take up cases where credible and independent investigations are being conducted by the countries involved.
Because of the sensitivity of the matter, it was impossible Tuesday to get any of the 15 members of the security cabinet to come out openly and say whether or not they supported establishing an independent committee. Sources close to the prime minister said that he had not yet formulated an opinion on the matter.
In a related development, the committee declared 50 organizations to be terror organizations, according to the statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
The statement said that the organizations, the names of which were not immediately publicized, "are active all over the world and direct their activities toward various targets in the West and not necessarily against Israel. Almost all of these organizations are connected to al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden or the Taliban."
According to the statement, "declaring these organizations as terrorist organizations is a significant step in the international struggle against financing terrorism. This announcement is designed to align Israel with Western countries, in particular the United States, which combat terrorism by locating funds intended to finance terrorism. Once this declaration is passed, banks and Israeli financial institutions will be obligated to examine their accounts and financial activities and report any suspicious activities connected to these organizations to the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority."
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