"We will demand justice, the Goldstone Report must be tossed into history's trash can," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
Sunday, amid the torrent of reactions to Judge Richard Goldstone's retraction of his Gaza War findings.
In an opinion piece published Friday in the Washington Post, Goldstone said he now questioned his own findings regarding Operation Cast Lead,
and regretted accusing Israel of
perpetrating war crimes during the Gaza campaign.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said
Israel would demand Goldstone retract his report from atop the United Nations podium, but is such action even possible?
Since the Goldstone Report was compiled by proxy of the UN Human Rights Commission – which passed a decision to that effect in the General Assembly – the only way to rescind the report would be to have the UN General Assembly pass another decision declaring the former null and void.
Such a move has historic precedent: in 1991, the General Assembly debunked UN Resolution 3379, declared in 1975, which stated Zionism was "a form of racism." The decision followed the 1991 Madrid Convention.
For now, however, it seems an official retraction of the Goldstone Report would be impossible: "There is no chance of passing such a decision today," a senior Jerusalem source said. "Now, it's all about politics."
The hurdles are many: the Arab lobby carries significant weight within the General Assembly, which is traditionally hard to circumvent. Adding to that the eddy of Mideast unrest, and Israel's own questionable international standing these days, and the matter is unlikely to make it on the agenda.
Should Israel insist on introducing the subject, even if only for symbolism sake, it would find it difficult to do it alone: "Demanding to revisit the resolution at this time would do us more harm than good," said a political source.
Theoretically, Israel could ask the United States to do its bidding for it, but given the frigid relations with the Obama Administration, it is doubtful Washington would make the matter a priority.
Some cautiously optimistic sources told Ynet Israel may still try to use the precedent set by the reversal of UNR-3379, to have the Goldstone conclusions overturned in the future; saying the nearing presidential campaign in the US in 2010 may be the ticket, as presidential candidates may choose to a gesture to that effect in order to wrangle the Jewish vote.
Still, many in Jerusalem believe Israel should focus its efforts in stressing its moral victory, rather than spar over nuances, at least until Israel's global standing changes.
Meanwhile, the reactions to Goldstones op-ed continue: Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, who faced off the judges in a Brandeis University debates in 2009, said that while he was not surprised by the recent change of heart, he admired Goldstone for his statement.
"It's not easy for a man to wake up one morning and admit he was wrong, but he is responsible for this terrible reputation Israel now has. The report was practically a blood libel."
Gold, who currently serves as the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, added the even back in 2009, it was clear that the teams working with Goldstone were unreliable, adding it posed a "serious problem" with his report.
Dr. Roni Berger, of the Department of Emergency Medicine in Ben-Gurion University, agrees, saying the investigation was unilateral and thus tainted.
Berger testified before the Goldstone Committee on post-traumatic stress disorder in Sderot residents in general and particularly among the city's children, but said his findings were "made marginal in the repot."
On the other hand, Attorney Banna Shugri-Badarneh of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI(, who also testified before the committee, told Ynet that Goldstone's retraction only matters in regards to a few specific issues, adding she doubts the report would be any different if it were compiled today.
"Our actions cover human rights and are not meant to ram the State," she said. "We aim to have the official authorities, like the Shin Bet and the military, respect elementary law. We are legally and morally bound by that."
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report