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Olmert on Goldstone: Too little, too late
Former PM, who launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, says regret over UN report which accused Israel of war crimes won't change a thing, as damage has already been done. Ex-Minister Herzog: Israel's refusal to cooperate with panel was a fatal mistake
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday night that Judge Richard Goldstone's regret over the 575-page report he published in 2009, accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, won't change a thing as damage has already been done.

 

According to Olmert, Goldstone's remarks in a Washington Post article are "too little, too late, after the damage has already been done. We don't need his comments to know that we acted in accordance with international law."

 

The former prime minister mentioned in a closed forum that after Operation Cast Lead his government had cooperated with the committees appointed by the United Nations secretary-general, which acted impartially.

 

His associates noted that the Goldstone Report was born in an organization which has some members that violate human rights. "The UN committees determined what Goldstone said today, so there is no need to address his remarks," one of Olmert's aides said.

 

Former Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedmann told Ynet that "the appointment of the Goldstone Committee and its members were biased against Israel from the very beginning, and under such circumstances Israel was completely right in its refusal to cooperate with such a committee.

 

"The report itself is completely groundless, and this stands out in the report itself. Goldstone's attempt to reconsider the report, at least partially, is a small step which is not enough to fix the unjustified damage caused.

 

"Still, the explanations he gives for the errors in the report are pathetic. The fact that he regrets the fact that the report had no effect on Hamas' conduct points to naivety and lack of any connection to reality and to the meaning of terror. It was clear that the report itself would serve to encourage terror, and that's exactly what happened in reality."

 

Herzog: We were wrong not to cooperate

But not everyone agrees Israel should have avoided cooperating with the Goldstone panel. Knesset Member Isaac Herzog (Labor) was the only minister who asked to cooperate with the committee. "The report came out as it did because we failed to cooperate. Today it has been proven that my claim was right," he told Ynet on Saturday.

 

"The ministerial committee headed by (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman made a fatal mistake in its decision not to cooperate with the committee. As the only minister who voted in favor of cooperating, I was faced by a brick wall of thought fixation. Had we presented out side properly, we could have convinced Goldstone of the rightness of our actions, as he was open to hear the Israeli side."

 

Herzog says (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak, (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and Lieberman "adopted the stance that we must not cooperate, as the committee had allegedly marked its target. But Goldstone did not come from a hostile place. The report must be erased from history, but this does not cancel the fact that what was decided in Israel was a bad decision.

 

"When we believe in our stance, we must not be afraid and present it clearly. The failure to present Israel's stand to the committee caused diplomatic damage, and there is no doubt that Goldstone's remarks today will not receive the same coverage as the report received when it was published."

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu called on the UN to retract the Goldstone report immediately. "Everything we said was proven to be true. Israel did not willfully harm civilians," Netanyahu explained, adding, "Israel's investigating authorities are worthy, while Hamas investigated nothing. The fact that Goldstone withdrew his conclusions must lead to the retraction of the report once and for all."

 

Netanyahu added that "the biggest absurdity is that the United Nation's Human Rights Council initiated the report, and one of its members was Gaddafi's Libya. Therefore we must toss this report into the trash can of history."

 

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is a member of the Security Cabinet, noted that "the UN Human Rights Council, which Libya was a member of not so long ago, is a biased, hypocrite and anti-Israel body. They ignored the firing of missiles on hundreds of thousands of Israelis for years, and the last thing they care about is human rights."

 

Gaza largely ignoring article

But while Goldstone's article caused quite a stir in Israel, most of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip media channels chose to ignore the judge's statement. The PA had demanded at the time to withdraw the report from the United Nations' vote due to heavy pressure from the United States.

 

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, had criticized this decision, claiming "it serves the Israeli occupation."

 

Barghouti told Ynet on Saturday he is certain Goldstone stands behind his report: "I've heard him talk about this issue many times and I know he's sure of what he wrote in the report. I believe he doesn't regret it."

 

According to him, aside from Goldstone other people were also behind the report. "He had all the information he needed and it's a fact that Israel refused to accept it. I'm convinced everything that's written there is the truth."

 

Barghouti admitted Hamas committed war crimes when shooting rockets towards populated areas filled with civilians. However he claimed Israel used disproportionate force. "How many Israelis have been killed and how many Palestinians? You do the math."

 

He added that he believes it makes no difference what is either said or written. "I was in Gaza after the operation and saw what happened there. What happened was a war crime," he said.

 

Aviad Glickman and Elior Levy contributed to this report

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 04.03.11, 07:35
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