Mary Robinson: "I am afraid the resolution is not balanced ... This is unfortunately a practice by the Council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable." (Le Temps, 4 February 2009).
Israel Analysis and Comments on the
UN GOLDSTONE GAZA FACT FINDING MISSION REPORT
Israel is appalled and disappointed by the UN Goldstone Report published on 15 September 2009 by the UN Gaza Fact Finding Mission. The UN Goldstone Report effectively ignores Israel right of self defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.
At the same time the UN Goldstone Report all but ignores the deliberate strategy of the internationally recognized terror group Hamas of operating within and behind the civilian population and turning densely populated areas into an arena of battle. By turning a blind eye to such tactics it effectively rewards them.
The UN Goldstone Report barely disguises its goal of instigating a political campaign against Israel, and in its recommendations seeks to involve the Security Council, the UN General Assembly the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council, and the entire international community in such a campaign.
Israeli Deputy FM Ayalon comments on Goldstone Report Human Rights Council vote
17 Oct 2009 Israel is disappointed that Russia, India and China supported the report.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, speaking in Holon on Saturday (17 October), referred to the Goldstone Report: "Israel is disappointed that Russia, India and China supported the report. They should have acted with greater discretion, as this unprofessional and distorted report, which denies democracies the right of self-defense, will harm them as well." Ayalon added that Israel intends to act through diplomatic channels to clarify the vote of these countries in the Human Rights Council.
In response to a question on Israel's cooperation with Goldstone, the Deputy Foreign Minister said that "although Israel did not officially cooperate with Goldstone, there was indirect cooperation in that Israel did not prevent the residents of Sderot from testifying before the mission. However, their testimony, as expected, was not included in the report."
On Israel's relations with Turkey, Ayalon said that "The state of our relations is not easy, but can be rectified with appropriate action."
Israeli Ambassador Ayalon briefing to the foreign press
on the Goldstone Report
Israel PM at the UN: "Have you no shame?"
Netanyahu reminds world that England when attacked by Nazi rockets leveled cities in Europe, while Israel went house to house in Gaza.
Why was Israel, the defender, condemned?
Why did the UN not condemn the terror group Hamas for firing rockets at Israel cities and towns?
The Mandate of the UN Mission
The one-sided mandate of the UN Gaza Fact Finding Mission, and the resolution established it, gave serious reasons for concern both to Israel and to the many states on the Council which refused to support it - including the member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan.
It also troubled many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who refused invitations to head the Mission and admitted that it was "guided not by human rights but by politics".
The Conduct of the UN Mission
These concerns were exacerbated by the conduct of the UN Mission itself, including reports in the Palestinian media that, throughout its visits to Gaza, it was continuously accompanied by Hamas officials and its refusal to recuse members of the mission with clear political views on the issues under investigation. One mission member signed a letter to the Sunday Times saying that Israel's actions against Hamas attacks were acts of "aggression not self-defense", prejudging the investigation before it had even begun.
The unprecedented holding of telecast hearings also gave cause for concern. The fact that all the witnesses were prescreened and selected, and none were asked questions relating to any Palestinian terrorist activity or the location of weaponry and terrorists in civilian areas only supports concerns that they were part of an orchestrated political campaign.
A "non-judicial" document
Justice Goldstone as Head of the UN Mission repeatedly insisted that the Mission was not a judicial inquiry and so "could not reach judicial conclusions". On this basis that he justified the inclusion of partisan mission members, admitting that their involvement "would not be appropriate for a judicial inquiry'. The UN Goldstone Report however is highly judicial in nature, reaching conclusive judicial determinations of guilt, and including 'detailed legal findings' even in the absence of the sensitive intelligence information which Israel did not feel able to provide. These determinations are made notwithstanding the Report's admission that it does not "pretend to reach the standard of proof applicable in criminal trials".
Elements Ignored by the UN Goldstone Report
The UN Goldstone Report all but ignores the deliberate terrorist strategy of operating in the heart of densely populated civilian areas which dictated the arena of battle. Even when the Hamas terrorists mixed among civilians, the Report rejects the notion that there was an intention to put the civilian population at risk.
Astonishingly, despite the many widely reported instances in the international press of the abuse of civilian facilities by terrorist groups, and the statements of Hamas own leaders praising women and children who acted as human shields, the UN Goldstone Report repeatedly stated that it could find no evidence of such activities. This, even despite its admission that those interviewed were "reluctant to speak about the presence or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups".
The UN Goldstone Report also ignores Israel's extensive efforts, even in the midst of fighting, to maintain humanitarian standards. While it does, reluctantly, acknowledge Israel's "significant efforts" to issue warnings before attacks, it does not find any of these efforts to be effective
While the UN Goldstone Report passes judgment against Israel in respect of almost any allegation, it seeks to absolve the Hamas of almost any wrongdoing. The word "terrorist" is almost entirely absent. IDF Soldier Gilad Shalit, now held incommunicado in captivity for over three years, was "captured during an enemy incursion" and the Hamas members that the Mission met with in Gaza are thanked as the "Gaza authorities" for extending their full cooperation and support to the Mission.
Even the thousands of terror rocket attacks against Israelis which necessitated the Gaza Operation are given the most cursory treatment, and indeed the Report indirectly blames Israel even for these by terming them "'reprisals".
Rejection of democratic values
In a Report which relies so heavily on Israel human rights organizations and which also petitions on sensitive security issues to Israel's Supreme Court the Report devotes considerable attention to "repression of dissent in Israel". It bases this assertion in large part on the widespread support for the military operation in the Israel public, assuming that Israel has "created a political climate in which dissent is not tolerated. The notion that the majority of Israelis genuinely supported action to bring years of continuous rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians to an end does not appear to have occurred to the members of the Mission.
The UN Goldstone Report is also critical of Israel internal investigations even though these compare favorably to investigations of allegations in military matters in most western countries, and have regularly resulted in criminal investigations and convictions.
The UN Goldstone Report's recommendations are as one-sided as its findings. It seeks to harness the Human Rights Council, the Security Council the General Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court and the international community as parts of its hostile political campaign.
Despite token recommendations in respect of the Palestinian side, all the international pressure is directed solely against Israel.
The true test of such a Report can only be whether in future conflicts it will have the effect of increasing or decreasing respect for the rule of law. Regrettably a one-sided report of this nature, claiming to represent international law, can only weaken the standing of law in future conflicts. At the same time, it will broadcast a deeply troubling message to terrorist groups wherever they are that the cynical tactics of seeking to exploit civilian suffering for political ends actually pays dividends.
Israel President Shimon Peres has slammed the Goldstone Commission's report on IDF Operation Cast Lead, saying it "makes a mockery of history and fails to distinguish between aggressor and those acting in self-defense."
Peres claimed the commission members would not have written such a report, which accuses Israel of war crimes, "had their children been living in Sderot, Israel under the constant threat of Hamas rockets."
The Israel President blames Hamas for launching the war, stating the terror group had committed numerous horrendous war crimes, and stressed that Israel had to defend itself.
"Hamas carried out attacks against the children of Israel, detonating bombs in city centers, hurting civilians, firing more than 12,000 rockets and mortar shells at innocent civilians with one clear aim - to kill," he wrote in a statement.
The UN Goldstone Report legitimizes terrorism, shooting and killing, while ignoring every state's right and obligation to self-defense, which are clearly anchored in the UN charter, Peres wrote.
The Israel president went on to recall Israel's disengagement from Gaza and Hamas's bloody takeover of the Strip.
"Israel removed all of its troops and citizens from the Gaza Strip, opened the border crossings and helped construction in the Strip - the Israeli occupation in Gaza ended. But after Israel completed the disengagement from Gaza, a murderous and illegitimate terror group took control over the Strip and threw out the legitimate Fatah leadership.
"While Hamas continued to fire rockets, Israel used diplomatic efforts, including many appeals to the UN, to bring about a cease fire. Instead of building Gaza and caring for the welfare of its citizens, Hamas built tunnels to attack Israel, cruelly using children and innocent Palestinians to hide terrorists and ammunition," he wrote.
The state of Israel had to defend itself, as would any other country in the world, Peres stressed, adding that "those who criticized Israel did not propose any other way of stopping the rocket fire."
The Israel president recalled how "Israel has been criticized for its actions against Hizbullah terror attacks from Lebanon and Hamas attacks from the Gaza Strip, as well as for building the security barrier in the West Bank to prevent suicide bombers from entering the country.
"This criticism did not stop the rockets from hitting the South and the North, nor did it stop terrorists from blowing themselves up in our central cities," wrote Peres. "The IDF's actions are what have brought economical prosperity to the West Bank and have enabled Gazans to have normal lives again," he concluded.
Also responding to the UN report, Israel Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said that it would hamper Middle East peace efforts.
Speaking to Israel Army Radio, Shalev added that "the international atmosphere is very influential. We have already begun a public diplomacy campaign in world capitals in order to explain the extent to which the report is biased, one-sided and political."
Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Jerusalem made the right decision not to cooperate with the inquiry.
"The report only came out because of countries like Pakistan, Libya and Saudi Arabia, who are members of the UN Human Rights Council," Ayalon told Army Radio. "The results just prove the correctness and legitimacy of the decision not to cooperate.... The report was compiled without any connection to investigations on the ground."
"It completely ignores all Hamas terror activity that preceded the IDF operation," he continued, stressing that the main reason for Israel's boycott of the investigation "was the presence on the commission of those who insisted that the operation was not one of self-defense, but an Israeli aggressive action."
Ayalon said that Israel would now focus its energy on "making the report dissipate" and that Jerusalem was in contact with the US over the findings, emphasizing that the report could have repercussions for American troops fighting in Iran and Afghanistan.
"We must remember that all Western nations opposed the inquiry commission, and our work with the Europeans and Americans can prevent the consequences," he said, asserting that the report would have negative effects on efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace and normalization between Jerusalem and the Arab world.
Ayalon concluded that there was "no one better" than Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to lead the campaign against the report and put Israel's side across.
Israel former ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman, said that the UN Human Rights Council report contained "blatant, one-sided, anti-Israel lies."
"Members of the UNHRC include countries like Zimbabwe and Libya that spend 90 percent of their time on Israel and don't deal, for example, with the Darfur massacre," he told Army Radio.
Gillerman also said that the UNHRC should never have been set up in the first place.
"We and the US were only ones who voted against the body being established. We knew it would be very one-sided and anti-Israeli," he said, adding that former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan had said that allowing the UNHRC's establishment was one of his biggest mistakes.
Gillerman said Israel was right not to cooperate with the inquiry, saying, "The findings would never have been objective."
He stressed that while soul searching was being done by Israel and would continue, Operation Cast Lead was conducted to protect a million southerners from rocket attacks.
"We went to lengths no other country would have gone to in order to avoid civilian casualties," he went on, adding that the IDF embarked on an operation any other country would have carried out under the circumstances, but that other militaries would have caused greater collateral damage.
On a positive note, Gillerman said that the Israel media was getting "more worked up" by the report than others. "I haven't seen other media outlets around the world dedicating so much time to the issue."
"The Goldstone committee is a committee that was set up to find Israel guilty of crimes that were determined in advanced, and the committee's members did not let the facts confuse them," said Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in his comments in response to the harsh UN report investigation the events of Israel Defense Forces Operation Cast Lead.
Lieberman said the committee's conclusions were predetermined, and he accused its members of serving the purposes of utilitarian countries. "The whole purpose of the report, from the moment the decision was made to write it, was to destroy Israel's image, in service of countries where the terms 'human rights' and 'combat ethics' do not even appear in their dictionaries," the foreign minister alleged. Lieberman went on to say, "I can say wholeheartedly, as can any man that examines the matter in an objective manner, that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and it is forced to deal with the most vile terrorists, who set for themselves the goal of killing women and children, and hide behind women and children."
The Israel Foreign Minister further claimed that "the Goldstone Report wishes to take the UN back to the dark ages, where it was also determined, through the leadership of utilitarian countries, that Zionism is racism." He said, "The UN Goldstone Report has no legal, factual or ethical value, and more than a testament to the State of Israel, it is a testament to the writers of the report and those that sent them." Lieberman's response is one in a long line of censure and attacks against the report on the part of senior Israeli officials, which has been continuous since the report was published on Tuesday.
The officials' defensive response is meant to minimize possible damage the document could cause Israel, officials in office at the time of the operation, and senior officers in the IDF. It should be noted that the UN Goldstone committee ruled that some of the incidents of the Gaza war may carry with them personal criminal liability. Israel experts on international law have said this could lead to lawsuits against officials in various state in which the law allows it.
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