Goldstone: Israel could stop report with open inquiry

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel could stop the Goldstone report process if it openly investigated its army’s conduct in the Gaza War, Richard Goldstone said.

"If the Israeli government set up an appropriate investigation, it would really be the end of the matter," said Goldstone, the former South African judge who authored the report alleging war crimes by both sides in last winter’s war between Israel and Hamas. "The heart of the report would become pretty irrelevant if there was an open, bona fide investigation."

Goldstone was addressing a Sunday evening conference call of about 150 rabbis affiliated with Ta’anit Tzedek, the Jewish Fast for Gaza; Rabbis for Human Rights-North America; and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.

Goldstone rejected Israeli criticism that the controversy engendered by the report is inhibiting the peace process.

"This is a shallow, false allegation," he said. "What peace process are they talking about? There isn’t one."

Goldstone said he had moderated his criticism last week of a draft resolution of the Human Rights Council endorsing the report. A draft resolution he had seen earlier in the week endorsed the report but criticized only Israel and omitted mention of Hamas.

Following his complaint, Goldstone said, the resolution’s drafters added language addressing Hamas’ role, and that’s what passed last Friday.

"It resulted in an additional paragraph being inserted into the passage dealing with the report condemning the targeting of any civilians and for the accounting of all parties," he said, adding his belief that it clearly referenced Hamas.

Goldstone said he was still unhappy that the council added references to Israeli actions unconnected to the report, including recent actions in Jerusalem.

Goldstone, who has worked in the past with Israeli institutions and pro-Israel groups, said his views of the country have not changed.

"My love for Israel remains unaffected," he said.

Goldstone also said that personal attacks from some Israelis and Jews keep him "awake at night."

"I expected criticism," he said, "but I didn’t expect the venom and what I consider to be unfair personal attacks."

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