JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel already has investigated some accusations included in the Goldstone report "because we are a democratic country," Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The Israeli prime minister said in an interview the Washington Post that Israel is looking into an independent inquiry not because of Goldstone, "but because of our own internal needs."
"We’ve had 26 allegations investigated. Not because of the U.N. decision but because this is our procedure," Netanyahu told the Post. "We’ve investigated people for wrong behavior. We’ve put people on trial in the past because we’re a functioning democracy. We’ll do it in this case, too. But what the Goldstone report actually accuses Israel of is deliberately targeting civilians, which is patently false."
Following the publication of the interview, the Prime Minister’s Office put out a clarification of Netanyahu’s remarks regarding the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into Operation Cast Lead.
"The flow of the interview makes it clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu intended to say that Israel is already examining the events according to existing internal procedures, not that it is ‘considering’ investigating the course of events themselves by other means," it said.
In the interview, Netanyahu called for changing the international laws of war to adapt to global terrorism.
"The best way to defuse this issue is to speak the truth because Israel was defending itself with just means against an unjust attack," he said. "Serious countries have to think about adapting the laws of war in the age of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. If the terrorists believe they have a license to kill by choosing to kill from behind civilian lines, that’s what they’ll do it again and again. What exactly is Israel supposed to do?"
Netanyahu also told the Post that the cessation of uranium enrichment should be the goal of any deal struck between Iran and Western world powers. He called Iran’s nuclear aspirations a "global issue" and sidestepped a question about whether Israel is planning an attack on Iran.
Netanyahu also made it clear where his government stands on the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the beginning of the peace negotiations should be without preconditions and the outcome of the negotiations should be a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state," he said.