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Netanyahu joins critics
Photo: Flash 90
Photo: Reuters
Ayalon. Meetings in New York
Photo: Reuters
Netanyahu: Goldstone Report 'a prize for terror'
Prime minister joins President Peres in harshly criticizing UN committee's conclusions on IDF operation in Gaza. 'The report's findings were prewritten. This field court-martial makes it difficult for democracies to fight terror,' he says. Deputy FM: Report mustn't reach UN discussion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening harshly criticized the conclusions of a United Nation committee which probed the Israel Defense Forces' operation in Gaza and accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes.

 

"The Goldstone Report is a field court-marital, and its findings were prewritten," Netanyahu said in a closed forum. "This is a prize for terror. The report makes it difficult for democracies to fight terror."

 

Netanyahu joined other Israeli officials who criticized the report, including President Shimon Peres, who said earlier Wednesday that the report "makes a mockery of history" and "does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender."

 

Professor Daniel Friedmann, who served as justice minister during Operation Cast Lead, joined the critics as well. Talking to Ynet, he said, "This is a political report disguised in a legal cloak, but it is legally unfounded.

 

According to Friedmann, "What this report really means is that Israel is the only country in the world which is not allowed to defend itself against acts of terror. Israel is the most threatened nation in the world and yet it makes the most effort to avoid harming innocent lives.

 

"Any comparison of Israel's fight on terror with recent conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. immediately shows that Israel holds itself to the highest ethical standard."

 

Minimizing Damages

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon met Wednesday evening with US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and told her that Washington and other Western countries must "ensure that the report remains in Geneva and is not rolled over to the UN."

 

Ayalon said during the meeting that the report should be viewed as a serious one by any democracy fighting terror. "The message conveyed by this report is that the methods of terror work and that democracies cannot defend themselves. This is an attempt to damage Israel's ability to fight the wave of terror."

 

The Israeli delegation to the UN defined the meeting, which was also attended by Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev, as "excellent."

 

Meanwhile, Israeli diplomats are working in Washington, New York and Geneva, in coordination with their American counterparts, saying that the Americans are embarrassed by the report, understand its severity and weighing their response.

 

A State Department spokesman said Wednesday that the United States was "concerned about some recommendations" in the Goldstone Report.

 

"Justice Goldstone sought to broaden the theme of his report to examine the abuses committed by all parties to the conflict," said spokesman Ian Kelly. He stressed that the US believes the report should be addressed through the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

 

Geneva council and Libyan problem

Ayalon also met with heads of the Jewish organizations – Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and AIPAC leaders. His message to them was that the Goldstone Report was like "Zionism equals racism."

 

According to the deputy foreign minister, "Then an attempt was made to degrade Israel's moral stand. Now it's an attempt to strip Israel of its ability to defend itself."

 

The American embarrassment stems from the fact that the US only recently joined the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the body which Jerusalem claims is acting in a tendentious manner in order to pass judgment on Israel in a field court-martial.

 

One of the most difficult problems Israel is facing is Libya's dominance in the UN institutions, playing a key role. On Tuesday, former Libyan Foreign Minister Ali Treki assumed the role of UN General Assembly president, which he will fill for a year.

 

US President Barack Obama will chair a special Security Council meeting on September 24, and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is also expected to sit around the table, as Libya is the Arab countries' current representative at the Council.

 

Yitzhak Benhorin in Washington and AFP contributed to this report

 

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