The American State Department responded Tuesday, for the first time, to Judge Richard Goldstone's retraction of his Operation Cast Lead findings, saying: "We've made clear from when the Goldstone Report was initially presented, and maintained ever since, that we didn't see any evidence that the Israeli government had intentionally targeted civilians or otherwise engaged in any war crimes," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.
Toner clarified the United States government read Goldstone's op-ed article published in the Washington Post Friday, and emphasized that the administration's stance on the matter remains the same as it was since the United Nations' Human Rights Council appointed Goldstone as chairman of the inquiry committee into the Gaza War.
Toner said Washington believes Israel has undertaken a credible internal processes to examine its own actions, adding that Goldstone acknowledged this. He added the US remains concerned by what they call "anti-Israeli bias" in the US Human Rights Council.
The State Department spokesman refused to address the Goldstone committee's proceedings.
A spokesman for the UN Human Rights Council said for the report to be withdrawn Goldstone would have to submit a formal request to the Geneva-based body, which he has not done.
Peres, Clinton in Washington (Photo: GPO)
Stormy weather in Mideast
Meanwhile President Shimon Peres met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. The two discussed the recent Mideast changes and attempted to find new ways to renew the peace process and strengthen ties between Jerusalem and Washington.
Clinton said this is a time of great challenges and many opportunities. She mentioned she looks forward to important conversations with Peres in which the two will discuss the strong friendship between the two countries. Clinton complimented Peres, saying that at age 88 he is one of the younger people she knows.
Peres is expected to meet with US President Barack Obama Tuesday. Clinton told Peres they are honored to have him visit Washington and added Obama is looking forward to meeting with him.
The Secretary of State declared Israel and the US must work together to bring change and hope to the future.
Peres told Clinton her name in Israeli is synonymous to that of a true friend operating under harsh conditions in a wise and creative way while creating a sense of security without giving up even when things get rough.
He added the Middle East is weathering a strong storm as the young generation calls for change, democracy and peace. Israel hopes the Arab world finds a way to promote peace and democratization, said Peres, then Israel would be glad to cooperate for peace and stability.
White House Advisor Dennis Ross addressed the issue of US-Israeli relations Monday saying they have become more important at a time of uncertainty in the Middle East. Ross told the Anti-Defamation League’s annual leadership conference that Israel must see her security issues are being addressed by the US.
Ross stressed he cannot recall a time between the two countries when the security relationship was so close and cooperation was so strong and focalized. He added that Israelis must handle their security issues in a way that would not leave them vulnerable. Ross hinted at US intentions regarding the peace process and said Israel should allow Palestinians to have more authorities.
AP contributed to this report
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