Barak: Israel won't assist UN Gaza probe

Team of investigators probing war crimes charges enters the Gaza Strip via Egypt.

Judge Goldstone 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Judge Goldstone 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Israel would not cooperate with a United Nations probe into alleged war crimes by both the IDF and Hamas during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year. Speaking at the UN on Monday following a meeting with Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, Barak told reporters he thought investigators would not be objective. Therefore, he said, "I don't think Israel has to, or will, cooperate with this investigation." The UN team headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone entered Gaza from Egypt on Monday without having secured Israeli cooperation. Goldstone, a veteran war crimes prosecutor who is Jewish and has ties to Israel, says he wants to investigate both sides' claims. Goldstone plans to spend a week in the area and submit his report in August. Barak expressed his personal respect for Goldstone, but said he was skeptical about what his team could achieve. "From our experience," Barak said of the UN commission members, "they will never be able to talk to the other side and to penetrate or interrogate the series of terrorist operations along the years." Barak, who stopped in New York before heading to Washington, D.C. this week, described his meeting with the UN secretary general as "very good." He said they covered a variety of topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Lebanon, and recent nuclear tests by North Korea and its impact on the stability of the rest of the world. "We expressed our intention to support the international community's efforts in helping the peace process in the region to move forward," Barak said.