Israel's Foreign Minister has hinted that his country pressurised Richard Goldstone to recant the findings of the UN Report he wrote following the 2008-2009 Israeli attack on Gaza. The Goldstone Report included accusations that the Israel Defence Forces committed "war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity" against the Palestinians.
Avigdor Lieberman made his comments to Israel's Channel 2 TV news. Goldstone's latest implied regret of the accusations he made against Israel, he said, was no surprise: "I want to congratulate Goldstone's new conclusions, but I am not surprised by them… We knew the truth and we had no doubt that it would come out eventually."
Lieberman added that following the release of the Goldstone Report, Israel's Foreign Ministry, Judiciary and Military exerted huge efforts behind the scenes toward achieving that end; the public were left unawares of the campaign.
Judge Goldstone, who is Jewish, said in a Washington Post op-ed piece at the weekend that the report that he had written for the UN following the Israeli war on Gaza "probably" would have reached different conclusions on "intentionality and war crimes" if he "had known then what he knows now" about the situation inside the beleaguered territory. Goldstone paid tribute to the fact that Israel launched investigations into the conduct of its military in Gaza, but has "concerns" that most have not been concluded and all have been conducted behind closed doors. He remains critical of Hamas for not investigating charges of war crimes against Palestinians.
Commentators are already pointing out that Goldstone's apparent recant of at least some of his findings and his "endorsement of the Israeli investigation is directly contradicted by the expert's report he appears to be referencing".
According to Adam Horowitz, "Despite Goldstone's insinuation, it appears that the officer responsible for bombing the Samouni house is not being legally investigated for the incident." All in all, concludes Horowitz, "the inconsistencies and contradictions of [Goldstone's] op-ed only demonstrate [that] the need for a thorough legal proceeding has never been greater. Over two years since the fighting in Gaza has ended it is clear that neither Israel nor Hamas is going to conduct credible investigations into the charges leveled against them by the UN fact finding mission."
Ha'aretz newspaper in Israel claims that Goldstone's reconsideration of his report was prompted "partly" by a debate he attended at Stanford University in the United States.