'Goldstone owes Israel apology for war crimes accusations'

Peres says retired judge ignored reasons for Cast Lead, Israel still one of most moral armies; Barak: Goldstone apology is too little, too late; Lieberman: Report is the price for Israel's commitment to justice.

President Shimon Peres in Switzerland 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
President Shimon Peres in Switzerland 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Addressing a recent op-ed by Richard Goldstone, President Shimon Peres said that the retired South African jurist should apologize to the State of Israel for accusing it of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.
"Goldstone ignored the central reason for the IDF operation in Gaza," Peres said, "the firing of thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens."
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He added that the IDF acted in self defense, investigated its own actions and will continue to be one of the most moral armies in the world.
Goldstone, in an op-ed Friday in The Washington Post, said that if he had all the information available today at the time he wrote his report on Operation Cast Lead, that it would have been a completely different document. He said that it is now clear Israel did not have a policy of targeting civilians and that Hamas clearly continues to commit war crimes.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the regret expressed by Richard Goldstone over his report was "too limited, and comes too late," reported Army Radio on Sunday.
According to the report, Barak said the damage caused by the Goldstone report could not be undone.
"The state of Israel announced that the report was fundamentally distorted. The Goldstone commission was based, from the beginning, on blood libels. It did not pretend to determine whether there were in fact war crimes, but in advance meant to determine which war crimes that Israel allegedly led."
Barak also explained the Israeli decision not to cooperate with the Goldstone commission, saying "Goldstone wanted us to give him facts, however we didn't have facts, because at the time we hadn't conducted our own investigation."
Added Barak, "there is no basis to the claim that Israel kept information from the committee, to the contrary- we submitted a report consisting of hundreds of pages that brought forth our opinions on every incident.  The committee took our report into its hands, and instead used the our arguments against us."
Barak concluded, "every country would have acted like Israel did if an international body came and blamed it."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the steadfastness of Israel to its goals of justice and its willingness to pay the price caused Richard Goldstone to change his conclusions, in an interview on Israel Radio on Sunday.
The foreign minister asserted that if Israel had cooperated with Goldstone's investigation, it would have set a dangerous precedent. He added that he doesn't want an apology from Goldstone. He did, however, continue his attack on Israeli left-wing organizations, "primarily the New Israel Fund," who he claimed gave information against Israel to the Goldstone Commission.