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Goldstone: Gaza war report not retracted

April 6, 2011 1:46 P.M. (Updated: April 9, 2011 10:39 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday he would not seek to retract the UN report he authored into Israel's Operation Cast Lead offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Following Goldstone’s op-ed on Friday, which questioned conclusions in his report about Israel’s intentional killing of civilians, Israeli officials claimed that the South African judge would undo the report’s status.

In an Associated Press interview, Goldstone denied the reports.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai called Goldstone Monday to thank him for the Wall Street Journal op-ed, and told the Israeli army radio that Goldstone promised to take further steps to retract the UN report.

However Goldstone told AP Tuesday "There was absolutely no discussion about the Goldstone report on the call."

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Gillerman, who was also on the line with Yishai, quoted Goldstone as saying he was ready to take steps to change the status of the report, but first wanted to "wait for the dust to settle" following his op-ed.

Goldstone denied he would seek to undo the report.

"As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel," the judge said.

"Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time."

His op-ed noted that Israel's failure to cooperate with the report obstructed the development of its conclusions. Hamas had still failed to conduct credible investigations, it added.

Goldstone confirmed that Yishai invited him to Israel, which he accepted, and would travel after July.

"I ended the conversation by expressing my love for Israel," Goldstone said.

Yishai was criticized by unnamed Israeli officials for inviting Goldstone, Israeli new site Ynet reported Tuesday.

"This invitation goes against everything Israel planned on doing," a political source told Ynet. "This is not the way Israel planned on addressing Goldstone after his report."

After the 2009 Goldstone report concluded that both Israel and Hamas had committed potential war crimes and crimes against humanity during three weeks war, Israeli officials engaged in a public campaign against the report and its author, who is Jewish.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, responded to Goldstone's article by saying that efforts seeking the report's retraction would be intensified.

Last month, UN Human Rights Council submitted the report to the General Assembly, and recommended that Security Council submit it to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

Council Spokesman Cedric Sapey told the AP on Monday that the report will be treated as valid, and Goldstone would need to submit a formal request for the report to be withdrawn.

A member of Goldstone's mission to Gaza, human rights lawyer Hina Jilani, spoke in support of the original report to Middle East Monitor Tuesday.

"Ultimately, the UN Report would not have been any different to what it was," she said.

Both Hamas and Israel had committed war crimes, Jilani said, noting "No process or acceptable procedure would invalidate the UN Report; if it does happen, it would be seen as a 'suspect move."

She added, "The UN cannot allow impunity to remain and will have to act if it wants to remain a credible international governing body."

Critics have questioned Goldstone's motivation for writing the Wall Street Journal article, and cited a history of suspect internal Israeli military investigations as reason to remain skeptical, and pursue charges in an international court system.
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