Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard tells Turkel Commission that Israel must establish extra-military mechanism to investigate observance of international law

Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard (Yesh Din) told the Turkel Commission at a hearing in Jerusalem today that “conducting an investigation is not tantamount to punishment”.

The Turkel Commission is investigating the “maritime incident” of 31 May 2010, when Israeli Naval commandos intercepted Freedom Flotilla heading to the Gaza Strip and boarded the largest ship in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, killing eight men (one a 19-year-old Turkish-American high school student) in the process.

Sfard, who is among other things the legal adviser for Yesh Din, advised the Turkel Commission that Israel must establish an extra-military mechanism to verify if the IDF + its advisers follow international law.

It was the second time, in months of intermittant hearings, that Israeli human rights organizations have addressed the panel.

The Turkel Commission was expected to conclude its work in November 2010, but it only issued the first part of its report on 23 January, which can be read online here.

Arguments made in Sfard’s testimony to the Turkel Commission, according to an English-language summary, state that:
“Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, a Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID) investigation is not opened in every case in which a Palestinian civilian is injured during military operations in the occupied territories, but rather is permitted to conduct a ‘command inquiry’ after which a decision will be made regarding whether to open an investigation.

Yesh Din’s Position is that:
1. A command inquiry, as the name suggests, is intended to draw operational lessons and is not a tool designed to collect evidence or to establish personal responsibility. Those who conduct the inquiry are not investigators but rather commanders and they do not possess appropriate training; what is said in the course of the inquiry is not admissible in court; the inquiry is confidential; and
for the most part accounts by those other than soldiers and officers are not heard.

2. The inquiry presents a significant and grave obstacle to the ability to conduct effective criminal investigations of shooting incidents in which Palestinian civilians have been injured. This is a violation of the obligation to investigate”.

Continue reading Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard tells Turkel Commission that Israel must establish extra-military mechanism to investigate observance of international law

Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED

What is the worth, the value, of assigning blame here? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t stop anything.

This weekend, Hamas went crazy, and Israel too.

There. Now, what?

It’s simply no longer possible to say who went crazy first, or who went crazy more. This discussion is sickening.

Israel attacked and killed people in Gaza on Friday. It announced on Sunday that one of the dead included a senior Hamas commander.

This is perhaps the explanation for why Hamas went crazy on Saturday morning — suddenly firing about 50 mortars into the Israeli perphery in about 15 minutes (is this possible?) — and taking responsibility for the act.

Then, it continued. There was more.

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that 7 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza into Israel that day — making a total of 60 projectiles fired from Gaza since the weekend, it said.

IDF attacks on Gaza — retaliation, prevention, whatever — killed some 10 Palestinians, including a number of what the IDF admitted were “uninvolved civilians”, mostly kids, and injured some 40 more. The IDF offered medical care to the wounded — a clear sign that something had gone badly wrong, and that Israel was recognizing some responsibility. And the IDF announced it was starting an investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed regret, “but”…

Continue reading Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED

Naomi Chazan summarily dropped as columnist by Jerusalem Post – because of Goldstone report?

In a spiraling controversy that centers on official Israeli opposition to the Goldstone report cataloging violations of international humanitarian law during the massive IDF offensive in Gaza last winter, Naomi Chazan has just been informed that her weekly columns will no longer be published by the Jerusalem Post.

Will Haaretz immediately make her an offer?

Continue reading Naomi Chazan summarily dropped as columnist by Jerusalem Post – because of Goldstone report?

Report: IDF response to Goldstone almost ready

The Jerusalem Post’s well-informed Defense correspondent, Yaakov Katz, has reported that “The IDF is close to completing a comprehensive report that will respond to the accusations that were leveled at the military by the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, more commonly known as the Goldstone Report. Work on the report began immediately following Operation Cast Lead but picked up speed several months ago with the appointment of Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yuval Halamish, a former senior intelligence officer, to compose the report and coordinate between the different IDF branches that have been conducting investigations into Goldstone’s claims that Israel perpetrated war crimes against the people of Gaza. IDF sources said that Halamish – together with Southern Command, the Air Force, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Military Advocate-General – were close to completing the report following which it would be released to the public. Last month, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Southern Command had completed a review of 36 cases of alleged war crimes that Judge Richard Goldstone had accused it of perpetrating and found that 30 of then were ‘baseless accusations’. The six remaining cases were discovered to be based on true events and were caused by operational errors and mistakes … One of Halamish’s first tasks was to oversee the ongoing 28 Military Police investigations and ensure that they were moving along swiftly…
Continue reading Report: IDF response to Goldstone almost ready

UNSG BAN says he will send the Goldstone report to Security Council ASAP

The AP’s indefatigable Edith Lederer has reported that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he will send a report calling for Israel and the Palestinians to investigate alleged war crimes during last winter’s conflict in Gaza to the UN Security Council ‘as soon as possible’.”

She added that “The 15 council members have already received copies of the 575-page report by an expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. But the General Assembly in a resolution adopted Thursday asks the secretary-general to transmit it, which will make the report an official Security Council document … The Security Council, however, is highly unlikely to take any action. The United States has repeatedly said the report belongs in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which appointed the Goldstone panel. Diplomats said Russia and China also don’t want the Security Council dealing with human rights issues. All three countries have veto power in the Security Council. [n.b. France, which also has the veto power, has also indicated that it would oppose any UNSC action on the Goldstone report…] The International Criminal Court can only investigate crimes on the territory of nations that recognize its jurisdiction, unless a case is referred to it by the Security Council. The Palestinian Authority recognized the court in January and urged prosecutors to launch an investigation into crimes committed during the Gaza conflict, but prosecutors are investigating whether this is possible since there is no state of Palestine”. This AP report was picked up and published by The Independent, here.

Amnesty International issued a statement after the vote in the UN General Assembly saying that the body’s adoption of “key recommendations of the Goldstone report on the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel earlier this year is vitally important for ensuring that those, on both sides, who committed war crimes and other violations of international law will now be held to account … Almost one year on, those who suffered war crimes and other gross violations of their rights, are still waiting for justice … [And] “It is our fervent hope that today’s UN General Assembly resolution will act as a catalyst to make justice and reparation a reality for the victims on both sides”.

In the statement, Yvonne Terlingen, Head of Amnesty International’s Office at the UN, said: “We deeply regret that the USA and the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia voted against the resolution and failed to support the need for accountability, justice and human rights that are so vital for victims of abuses in this conflict … We urge the UN Secretary-General to now appoint independent experts in human rights and international humanitarian law to assess whether any investigations that are conducted by Israel and Hamas meet the required international standard”.

[UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post, in an article published after this posting, wrote that “44 abstained, including most of the EU countries that had sought unsuccessfully to soften the resolution’s language prior to the vote. Switzerland was the only European country to endorse the report. Russia, which does not often side with Israel in these matters, abstained … Following the Goldstone vote, which US Ambassador Susan Rice did not attend, the US mission circulated an ‘explanation of vote’ by Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, who voted in Rice’s place. ‘As the United States made clear in Geneva, we believe that the Goldstone Report is deeply flawed’, Wolff said, citing an unbalanced focus on Israel, sweeping legal conclusions and overreaching recommendations, and a failure to adequately assign responsibility to Hamas for basing its operations in civilian-populated areas. He stressed that the matter should be handled at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva alone, saying discussion in the Security Council would be ‘unconstructive’. Stating that the US ‘strongly supports accountability’ for human rights and humanitarian law violations, Wolff said the best way to end human suffering is to bring comprehensive peace to the region, including a two-state solution. ‘As we urge the parties to restart permanent-status negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, we should all be seeking to advance the cause of peace – and doing nothing to hinder it’, he said“.  This JPOST article is published here.]

The Amnesty International statement noted that UNSG BAN has been asked to submit what it called a “progress report”  to the UN General Assembly in three months’ time.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva still has on its books the first resolution it adopted on the Goldstone report, in early October, calling for review of the situation in March 2010.

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a measure by an overwhelming vote (344-to-36) calling the Goldstone report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy”, and calling on the Obama Administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of it at the UN.

A post by Matthew Rothschild on The Progressive website said that “Dennis Kucinich had it right when he denounced the House majority for going along with this. His statement is so powerful that I’m excerpting it at length here: ‘Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt … Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist. Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian. The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right: resolution.’ . . . How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation? How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to human security of jobs, education and health care? … all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim”.  This posting can be read in full here.

Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic Congressman from Ohio who was re-elected a year ago to a seventh term in the U.S, House of Representatives.  The full text of his statement on this House resolution, Entiltled “Truth, Human Dignity, and the Goldstone Report”, can be seen on his website, here

On the third day of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Kucinich was sending a letter to UNSG BAN Ki-Moon “urging the United Nations to establish an independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza. The attacks on civilians represent collective punishment, which is a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention ( The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better. The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation … Israel is leveling Gaza to strike at Hamas, just as they pulverized south Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. Yet in both cases civilian populations were attacked, countless innocents killed or injured, infrastructure targeted and destroyed, and civil law enforcement negated. All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable. It is time for the UN to not just call for a cease-fire, but for an inquiry as to Israel’s actions.”  This letter can be viewed in full here.

And on the very same day that Kucinich wrote his letter, former UN Under-Secretary-General, and novelist, Shashi Tharoor was penning an article saying that Indians envied Israel’s ability to operate as it pleased [see our posts, here and here – Tharoor’s article was posted on the Huffington Post with the title (he wrote it) “India longs to follow Israeli path of reprisal] .

Shashi Tharoor wrote his article on 29 December — and did not bother to correct it even before it was published in the Huffington Post on 19 January, one day after two unilateral cease-fires (Israel’s and Hamas’) went into effect in Gaza.

Then, after reaction to that piece, Tharoor wrote again something he called “Apologia”, which was published in the Huffington Post on 27 January — a somewhat dizzy retraction in which he wrote: “Many of you have read my article as endorsing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and deplored the article’s apparent indifference to the humanitarian tragedy that followed.  I regret the misunderstanding of the intent and thrust of the piece, which was not written as a commentary on the conflict in Gaza.  [!]  When I wrote the article I was thinking only about india/pakistan – the assault on Gaza had just begun when I put my fingers to the keyboard … Obviously I had no sense at the time of writing of the scale of the israeli action that was to follow and the toll that would be taken in civilian lives.  But in any case the article says India cannot, should not and would not do what Israel has done … Using the Israel parallel – at a time when my email inbox was brimming with messages of the ‘why can’t we do the same as Israel?’ variety – was just a way of bringing greater attention onto India’s dilemma and its anguish, while arguing that there is no ‘Gaza option’ for India.  Of course I should have realized that using an unfolding event as a peg would make my argument hostage to the way that situation evolved. Inevitably, some readers would judge the article in the light of what has happened in the two weeks after I wrote it. Had Israel taken out a few rocket sites and withdrawn in 3 or 4 days, as I had expected, perhaps the analogy would have seemed less offensive” …

Despite his inability to recognize or correctly assess, by 29 December, what was happening in Gaza, Shashi Tharoor — having won election this past spring to India’s parliament as a representative of the Congress Party in Kerala State — has since become India’s Foreign Minister, in yet another triumph of style over substance…

UPDATE:  Yaakov Katz has written on Sunday in the Jerusalem Post that “Amid Israeli efforts to bolster military ties and export military hardware, the Indian Chief of Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday for talks with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi … Israel and India enjoy close defense ties and Israel last year overtook Russia as the number-one supplier of military platforms to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually.  According to press reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.  The visit to Israel comes just before the first anniversary of the attacks last November in Mumbai against a hotel as well as a Chabad House, during which over 170 people were killed, including the Chabad emissary to Mumbai and his pregnant wife.  Since the attack, Israel has assisted India in beefing up its security, particularly along its coast, where the terrorists allegedly infiltrated from nearby Pakistan.  Last Tuesday, Kapoor was quoted [by news sites] as saying that … ‘We have to take all steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks. We cannot rule out apprehensions of such possibilities … India cannot afford to witness a repeat of 26/11″ …  Yaakov Katz’s report in the JPost can be viewed in full here.


Here is the result of the voting in the UN General Assembly
In favour of the resolution on the Goldstone report: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Absent: Bhutan, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Israeli officials present spectrum of views on independent investigation of Gaza war

Israeli officials seem to be taking a range of views on the question of establishing an independent Israeli commission to look into last winter’s war on Gaza.

The IDF’s Operation Cast Lead (27 December to 18 January), was primarily justified as necessary to stop rocket, mortar, and missile fire from Gaza onto surrounding Israeli communities (the range was expanded during the war to up to 60 km). In some instances, Israeli officials said that it was necessary to end Hamas rule in Gaza.

Haaretz is reporting that “Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor thinks Israel should establish its own independent committee to investigate Israel Defense Forces activity in the Gaza Strip during last winter’s Operation Cast Lead. ‘I have faith in the army and it is my duty to protect it, its commanders and its soldiers – and the most effective tool for this is serious self-examination’, Meridor said in a recent interview with Haaretz. ‘A state that examines itself [protects itself from] harassment. Today, with the development of international law, one of the best means of defense is for a state to investigate itself … The commission of inquiry that I hope will be established must examine the Goldstone report’s claims, even if it is a biased report, and its mandate from the outset was to examine Israel’s crimes, and one of the committee’s members stated prior to the investigation that Israel commits war crimes’, said Meridor, who also serves as minister of intelligence and atomic energy. ‘But the threat is serious and a commission of inquiry should be established, also to examine the suitability of the rules of war to the new type of war that has been imposed on us’ … As for Meridor’s recent return to politics, he attributed the move to the Second Lebanon War. ‘I saw how a government of intelligent people, some of whom I know very well personally, weren’t asking the elementary questions when sending the nation to war’, he said. ‘Going to war is the hardest decision a government can make. You don’t go to war unless all other options have been exhausted. You don’t go to war because you’re right, but because you know where you want to get to’.”  This article is posted on Haaretz’s website, here.

Israeli officialdom, however, appears to be divided — though mainly over tactics.  Like Meridor, some senior Israeli officials are reportedly speaking out in favor of an independent Israeli investigation.  Some “mainstream” (as opposed to “left-wing”) Israeli experts in international law, and some Israeli legal figures agree.  However, as reported in recent days, the explanation given in some cases is that the independent investigations should be just to comply with the bottom-line recommendation contained in the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Goldstone report — namely, that Israel and Hamas must each establish internal investigations within six months, or be referred to the UN Security Council. Some say this is required for “better PR”.

Continue reading Israeli officials present spectrum of views on independent investigation of Gaza war

UNHCR to convene Thursday afternoon in Geneva on Goldstone Report

The Palestinian leadership has managed to get support from enough of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva to agree to re-convene on Thursday afternoon to re-consider the Goldstone report, mandated by the HRC, to look into last winter’s war in Gaza.

The meeting is expected to go into Friday as well.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khraishi reportedly said on Tuesday that he succeeded in getting 18 of the 47 members to sign the request to convene the HRC in Extraordinary Session, because it is not meeting in regular session now.

[The 18 HRC members who signed the request are: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.]

Getting the meeting was the easy part. The hard part is: what’s next?

Continue reading UNHCR to convene Thursday afternoon in Geneva on Goldstone Report

Abbas finally addresses his people – and things get worse

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) made a live televised speech at 8pm on Sunday evening — his first since the storm of protests about the Palestinian decision to withhold support, in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva some ten days ago, for the report issued by the Fact-Finding Mission into last winter’s Gaza war, headed by South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone.

It didn’t help.

Leadership has been badly lacking in the crisis that has developed since that decision, which has still not been fully explained even after tonight’s speech.

Abu Mazen instead repeated that he had established an investigative committee (a week ago today) — and he made the surprising suggestion that the mandate of this committee is to judge whether or not the decision taken in Geneva — to delay consideration of the Goldstone report’s findings for almost six-months (until March 2010) — was right, or not. Abbas said he wanted to be interviewed by the committee, and he said that if his investigative committee says it was a wrong decision, Abbas said, we will accept it — and, he added, “We are courageous enough to admit that we were wrong”.

Continue reading Abbas finally addresses his people – and things get worse

Where is Abu Mazen?

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was due to return to Ramallah by now — the latest advisory said he would be back by Thursday night. There is still no sign of him yet.

U.S. Special Envoy on the Middle East George Mitchell is back in the region again to try to re-start Palestinian-Israeli talks that were broken off during last winter’s Israeli large-scale military operation in Gaza. Mitchell held talks with Israeli government ministers on Thursday, while the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stayed on in Rome to speak with the Pope. The U.S. State Department has announced that Mitchell will be meeting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday — and with the Palestinian President. But where?

And then, on Saturday, Mitchell is scheduled to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Rumors circulated in Ramallah that Abbas is going to make a televised address to his people in the next day or so. Since the decision last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to delay — until March 2010 — consideration of the report into last winter’s Gaza war issued by a Fact-Finding Mission headed by South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone, Abbas has given no clear explanation to his increasingly angry people of how and why the decision was made.

A demonstration called by members of Fatah organizations was supposed to take place in Ramallah today — not about the Goldstone report, but rather to show support for the Palestinian position in East Jerusalem. However, many — including the demonstration’s organizers — decided not to attend, because Palestinian security forces reportedly insisted that, in order to obtain permission for the demonstration, the marchers should agree to wear business-like civilian attire, and carry posters with pictures of the Palestinian president.

Continue reading Where is Abu Mazen?

U.S. State Dept: we did not pressure the Palestinians on Goldstone report

The U.S. did not “pressure” the Palestinian leadership to withdraw a resolution that was to have been submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week offering support for the conclusions contained in the Goldstone report on last winter’s war on Gaza. At least, this is what the US. State Department spokesperson, Ian Kelly, told reporters — in response to their questions — at the regular daily briefing in Washington on 5 October:

QUESTION: Can I ask about the Goldstone report? On Friday, the Palestinian Authority agreed in Geneva to go ahead and put – defer a vote for it to go to the Human – UN Human Rights Council. What role specifically did the United States play in pressuring the Palestinian Authority to make that decision?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know if I would accept your characterization of pressuring. I think that we recognized that we had serious concerns with the recommendations and some of the allegations. We felt very strongly that while these investigations should be investigated and addressed, that we thought on the one hand that Israel had the kind of institutions that could address these allegations. And of course, we urged Israel to address these very serious allegations. But I think we had a broader concern that we didn’t want the report to distract us from our ultimate goal, which was to address the root causes of the tragic events of last January, and that’s the lack of a regional and lasting peace between the two parties – between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So we were concerned that we stay focused on that ultimate goal. And we are not saying that the allegations in the report – we’re not saying that they should be ignored. We simply do not want the report itself to become any kind of impediment to this ultimate goal. We appreciate the seriousness with which the Palestinians approach this very, very difficult issue, and we respect this decision to defer discussion of the report to a later date for the reasons that I just stated – that we want to make sure that we stay focused on the ultimate goal here.

QUESTION: You say you respect the Palestinians’ decision?


Continue reading U.S. State Dept: we did not pressure the Palestinians on Goldstone report