Richard Goldstone, the Jewish South African judge who headed up a United Nations investigation into potential war crimes committed during last winter’s Gaza war, formally presented his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this morning. In his remarks, Goldstone—who formerly served as chief prosecutor for the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia—said he had held off making an immediate recommendation that both Israel and Hamas be referred to the international criminal court in order to give each side a chance to, in essence, do the right thing. “The ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence,” he told the panel.
What happened next depends on which news report you read. According to Reuters, the U.S. representative, Michael Posner, called on Israel to do more investigating. The Associated Press reports that Posner told the council the United States disagrees “sharply” with many of the findings in Goldstone’s report and “believe it to be deeply flawed.” Everyone, however, seems to agree that the Israeli representative, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, continued to dismiss Goldstone’s report and to defend Israel’s existing military investigations into a spectrum of war-crimes allegations, including the firing of white-phosphorus shells and unwarranted attacks on civilian facilities. “Israel is committed to fully examining every allegation of wrongdoing, not because of this report, but despite it,” Leshno-Yaar told the council. The Palestinian representative, Ibrahim Khraishi, was apparently silent about Hamas’s failure to investigate or halt rocket firings, but welcomed Goldstone’s findings about Israel. “My people will not forgive the international community if the criminals are left without punishment,” he said. So much for starting the new year off with a buried hatchet.
U.N. Expert Defends Gaza War Crimes Report [AP]
U.S. Urges Israel to Probe Gaza Crimes to Boost Peace [Reuters]
Related: Report Card [Tablet]