Former PM Ehud Olmert
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Ben-Ami: Testimonies helped
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Officials: Israel cooperated with UN over Gaza war probe

Sources close to former PM Olmert say Goldstone committee was second to investigate damage in Gaza; State cooperated with first probe, run by former Amnesty head

Affiliates of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert say Israel did not boycott all United Nation parties sent to investigate the damage done to the Gaza Strip after the Israel Defense Forces' Operation Cast Lead in January.


Israeli criticism of the Goldstone committee, the second to conduct the probe according to the sources, cited its bias. The UN justified the report's one-sidedness by stating that Israel would have nothing to do with members of the investigating committee and thus their side could not be heard.


But sources close to Olmert, whose government decided not to cooperate with the committee, told Ynet Wednesday that Israel did cooperate with a committee sent by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Heading the committee was Ian Martin, formerly the head of the human rights organization Amnesty.


The sources said no more than one committee should have been sent to investigate, and that it should have been enough for the state to cooperate with just the first one.


"It's a lie to say we did not cooperate with the UN," one source familiar with the case said. "There were talks with the UN secretary-general, there were phone conversations, a committee came here and saw documents."


He said Ban's committee published a report that went largely unheeded because it "didn't make any noise".


"It was not flattering, but it was relatively fair," the source said, but added that Martin's report was biased as well because it didn't mention Hamas as any side in the violence.


'Israel right in saying it has been trampled'

On the other hand, former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami claims that the Israelis who testified before the UN committee made a noticeable difference in the report.


"Maybe if Israel had presented its views the committee would not have reached the same conclusions," he told Ynet.


Ben-Ami added that the committee had emerged from a human rights group with dubious credentials. "They never investigate Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, for example, and they would never dare do such a thing to the US, which has sinned a number of times in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.


"Israel is right in saying it has been trampled. If such a committee had been established regarding the US I have no doubt it wouldn't have appeared before the committee. Why should it appear before a committee in which Yemenites, Lybians, and Saudis are the majority? They do this to us because we are weak."


Ben-Ami is certain that the sensational qualities of the Goldstone report were what made it so famous. "The very fact that Israel is on the defensive and enters this battle in retrospect, that's how it is given legitimacy," he said of the report.


Daniel Edelson contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 09.16.09, 17:58
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