Know More About Palestine

Saturday April 9, 2011 10:39 AM (EST+7)

NEW YORK, April 7 (Patrick Worsnip/Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Thursday that jurist Richard Goldstone's bid to qualify his controversial report on Israel's 2008-09 Gaza campaign was not enough to cancel out libels in the report.

Goldstone, a South African, was blasted by Israeli officials after the report for the UN Human Rights Council, published some nine months after the conflict, concluded both Israel and the Islamist group Hamas were guilty of war crimes.

Last week, he wrote in the Washington Post that Israel's own investigations indicated its forces had not intentionally targeted civilians in the fighting, and that his report would have been different had he known this while writing it.

I saw that Goldstone expressed his regrets, Peres told a breakfast in New York for a group of UN ambassadors. Well, unfortunately, libels are living longer than denials.

It's a joke, but it remains alive. And we wouldn't like to have additional libels, he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations last Saturday to cancel the report in the wake of Goldstone's article.

Israel had refused to cooperate with the inquiry -- a point noted by Goldstone in his Washington Post article.

Susan Rice, the US envoy to the United Nations, told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that while she wanted the report to disappear she did not think it could be amended.

In further testimony on Thursday, Rice said Washington was consulting closely with core friends and partners about the appropriate procedural steps to address both US concerns about the original report and Goldstone's recent comments.

But she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that repudiating the report would require new resolutions by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, and we know the challenges attendant there -- a reference to antipathy to Israel in both bodies.


About 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed in the three-week Gaza war that Israel launched with the declared aim of ending cross-border rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

Peres said Israel had checked all of about 400 allegations leveled against its troops by the United Nations and had found only three of them held up. The soldiers involved were to face trial, he said.

Peres is due to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday and Israeli officials said the Goldstone report was likely to be one of the main topics.

Referring to a possible Palestinian bid to seek recognition in the UN General Assembly -- where the Palestinian Authority currently has observer status -- Peres said he did not see a solution to the Middle East conflict at the United Nations.

We have to think very seriously what will happen in the West Bank, he told the ambassadors. If the United Nations can provide us with answers to the security, go ahead. But if you cannot provide, be careful.

Can the United Nations provide the guarantee there won't be missiles, there won't be terror, there won't be intifadas (uprisings)? And what then are we supposed to do with the United Nations resolutions?

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell in Washington; Editing by Laura MacInnis)






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