Goldstone – continued

Haaretz journalist Tomer Zarchin has conducted an email interview with South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone about recent Israeli criticism of his recent report on last winter’s Gaza war — and about him. According to the Haaretz account,
“Judge Richard Goldstone told Haaretz Thursday that President Shimon Peres’ remarks criticizing him were ‘specious and ill-befitting the head of State of Israel’. Peres was quoted Wednesday as calling Goldstone ‘a small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence’, who was ‘on a one-sided mission to hurt Israel’. In Thursday’s interview by e-mail with Haaretz, Goldstone said [apparently referring to the United States]: “I do not believe that any nation should protect another nation blindly. I would prefer to see the United States furnish reasons for criticizing the report. The United States has supported our call for credible investigations by Israel and by the Gaza authorities, whether the PA or Hamas … It does not suffice for the military to investigate itself. That will satisfy very few people and certainly not the victims” … When asked how far up the chain of command he felt such a criminal investigation should go, and whether decision-makers in government be its subject, he replied: “A criminal investigation should go as high up the chain of command, both military and civilian, as the evidence justifies … The report is based on the assumption that Israel was entitled to act in self-defense. The investigation was concerned with whether the exercise of the right to self-defense was lawful or unlawful … I would suggest that time has come for Israel to look at the allegations not only of the killing and injuring of so many civilians but also the collective punishment meted out to the people of Gaza by the substantial destruction of the infrastructure, and particularly the food infrastructure of Gaza. The debate should continue, not attempt to be silenced.”

Asked what he thought about a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and pressed by the interviewer on whether or not he believed such a commission would establish “accountability in a more constructive fashion than criminal proceedings”, Goldstone reportedly replied that it would, “on condition that it is set up to look at allegations on all sides and is established by a democratic process.”

Goldstone also said to Haaretz that “I would suggest that time has come for Israel to look at the allegations not only of the killing and injuring of so many civilians but also the collective punishment meted out to the people of Gaza by the substantial destruction of the infrastructure, and particularly the food infrastructure of Gaza. The debate should continue, not attempt to be silenced.” This Haaretz story can be read in full here.

UPDATE: Haaretz’s Gideon Levy commented on Sunday on the Shimon Peres remarks concerning Justice Goldstone: “President Shimon Peres considers Richard Goldstone a ‘small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence’. Same to you, we used to say when we were kids. Indeed, it’s amazing to see how aptly these harsh remarks describe Peres himself, a small man, devoid of any sense of justice. A president who tongue-lashes an internationally acclaimed jurist, a senior representative of the United Nations, mainly attests to his own character. The attacks on Goldstone have devolved; they have become personal and unbridled. When they are uttered by the president, in a meeting with his esteemed Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva no less, it shows we have completely lost our way. Peres fulminated in the name of us all. This is not only a matter of personal etiquette, at which Peres normally excels. This is about the image of a country whose number-one citizen speaks so rudely against a global emissary. That is Peres’ ‘PR mission’ that everyone here is cheering. Goldstone has already chalked up one impressive achievement: We will now think twice or even three times before sending Israeli soldiers out on another brutal attack like Operation Cast Lead. His report will echo in the ears of politicians and generals before they give the order to move out. Perhaps the brutality is not over; certainly this is not a farewell to arms, but there will be new considerations and restraint. Without our admitting it, Goldstone has become the developer of the Israel Defense Forces’ new ethics code”.
[But I am not so sure … the IDF Chief of Staff said last week that if necessary, there will be another attack on Gaza…]
In any case, this Gideon Levy article can be read in full here.

Are they crazy!!??

This is what people say. here in Israel, if they disagree with somebody else’s proposition: “Are they crazy!!??”

According to an article by Aluf Benn published in Haaretz today, “confidants” and “aides” of Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “Netanyahu believes that U.S. President Barack Obama wants a confrontation with Israel, based on Obama’s speech in Cairo last week … In Netanyahu’s opinion, the Americans believe an open controversy with Israel would serve the Obama administration’s main objective of improving U.S. relations with the Arab world”.

Really, this is too much. After all that Obama said, in his 4 June speech in Cairo! “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable”, Obama said. No one can seriously think that Obama is favoring the Arab world over Israel.

No, this appears to be a manipulative attempt to bully George Mitchell and Barack Obama into backing down in the increasingly confusing confrontation over Israel’s continued settlement activities in the West Bank — which Netanyahu and a number of his appointed government ministers have said they have every intention of continuing.

Continue reading Are they crazy!!??

Why are Palestinian Authority activities banned in East Jerusalem?

Why is Israel suppressing the activities of Palestinian and/or Palestinian Authority (PA) activities in East Jerusalem?

The argument being offered by Israeli authorities is that PA activities are banned in Jerusalem under the Oslo Accords.

But, these activities were allowed — with difficulty — before and after the start of the “Olso” process in 1993.

It’s hard to believe these days, with the now-routine suppression of rather simple activities such as a memorial meeting on the anniversary of the death of Faisal Husseini, or the press conferences of East Jerusalem Palestinians in a media center opened by the Palestinians during the Pope’s recent visit, or this year’s Palestinian Literary Festival (PalFest09) that opened in Jerusalem on Saturday (see post below), have all been closed by police and Border Policemen with guns.

Israel’s then-Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, who is now Israel’s State President, wrote a letter dated 11 October 1993, promising “not to hamper” — but rather to “encourage” — the activity of “all the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem”.

The “Oslo process” Declaration of Principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the State of Israel was signed on the White House lawn on 13 September 1993. It was to go into effect a month later. Apparently as part of that, Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Peres sent this letter to the Norwegian Foreign Minister, whose country had hosted the previously-secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations taking place under Oslo.

The text of the letter is posted on the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (though, strangely, they take it from the Jerusalem Post some eight months later):

“The following is the text of a letter sent by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst, on October 11, 1993, as published in The Jerusalem Post on June 7, 1994:

‘I wish to confirm that the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem and the interests and well-being of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem are of great importance and will be preserved. Therefore, all the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem, including the economic, social, educational, cultural, and the holy Christian and Moslem places, are performing an essential task for the Palestinian population. Needless to say, we will not hamper their activity; on the contrary, the fulfilment of this important mission is to be encouraged’.”

This text can be found on the Israeli MFA website here .

So, what has happened since then?

According to lawyer Jawad Bulous, the Israeli Knesset passed an “implementation” law (to “implement” subsequent “Oslo process” agreements) — he said, I thought, that this law was passed in 1997 — and it is this “implementation” law passed by the Knesset is apparently what prohibits Palestinian Authority activity in East Jerusalem — despite the promise made by Shimon Peres in his October 1993 letter to the Norwegian Foreign Minister.

So, what good are such letters — Peres apparently wrote a number of them on various subject matters — and such promises?

If the “implementation” law passed in 1997, an internet search reveals other dates, or other stages in the process: A Jerusalem Post article dated 6 June 1996 reported that “since the passing in December 1994 of special legislation explicitly forbidding Palestinian Authority activity in the capital, Orient House officials have largely stopped work directly connected with the PA. Faisal Husseini, the senior PLO official in Jerusalem who runs Orient House, also personally promised Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal the PA activity would stop”…

December 1994 was just over a year after the Oslo accord’s Declaration of Principles — very early days.

The Orient House was then finally closed down in August 2001, after a suicide bombing targetted a Jerusalem pizza restaurant.

"Ave Benedicte…" – Shalom

Israel’s State President Shimon Peres greeted Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Roman Catholic Church, in Latin.

The Pope was given a red-carpet reception in Israel upon his arrival from Jordan at Israel’s Ben Gurion International airport on Monday morning.

Just before the Latin greeting, Shimon Peres told the Pope: “I welcome you and offer you a blessing: “Shalom, Shalom lekha.” [Peace, Peace to you].

The Vatican flag -- and a bird -- fly near the Jaffa Gate outside the Old City in East Jerusalem

The main events in the Papal visit to Israel can be viewed on a live webcast on a site specially set up by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in several languages, here .

In the welcoming address, Peres also said to the Pontiff: “Since the days of Abraham our forefather, we have believed that man should aspire to be a desirable guest and a gracious host. Abraham’s tent was open to all directions. It was easy for the pure air and wind to enter from north, south, east, and west”.

The Israeli government, when it wants to be, can be the best host. But is its tent open to all directions, allowing pure air and wind to enter from the four major points of the compass? Or is it closed behind The Wall and its massive security infrastructure, which makes crossing any border something like sheer hell for many people.

Oh, the longing for the days when it was possible to drive from Jerusalem to Beirut for lunch and some shopping, or to Damascus for dinner…

Can those days can come again? Peres told the Pope: “We have made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and we are in negotiations to make peace with the Palestinians, and even to arrive at a comprehensive regional peace. Your visit here brings a blessed understanding between religions and spreads peace near and far. Historic Israel and the renewed Israel together welcome your arrival as paving the great road to peace from city to city”.

The Pope, speaking in his German-accented English, told the audience at the airport that “I appreciate the opportunity that has been made available to me to come on pilgrimage…I take my place in a long line of Christian pilgrims to these shores… I come to pray at the holy places,to pray for peace in the holy land and around the world…We share the same priorities to give religion its right place in the modern world and to respect all individuals … Tragically, the Jewish people have experienced the terrible circumstances of ideologies that deny the fundamental dignity of every human person … It is right and fitting that during my stay in Israel I will have the opportunity to honor the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah and pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude … Sadly, anti-semitism continues to raise its ugly face around the world … This is totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism where ever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe”.

The Pope said “Even though the name Jerusalem means ‘city of peace,’ it is all too evident that, for decades, peace has tragically eluded the inhabitants of this holy land … in their struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have brought so much suffering … In union with people of goodwill everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders … I hope and pray for a climate of greater trust that will enable progress…”

The Pope called for freer access to Jerusalem.

He said that “The eyes of the world are upon the peoples of this region as they struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have caused so much suffering … The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace between Israelis and Palestinians”.

He was speaking with the Royal Jordanian airplane standing on the tarmac behind him, and the Royal Jordanian flight crew, including its stewardesses, lined up alongside.

The Pope concluded with a few words to the Catholic and Christian communities in the Holy Land: “I pray that your continuing presence in Israel and the Palestinian territories will bear much fruit in promoting peace and mutual respect among all the peoples who live in the lands of the Bible … May God give his people strength. May God enable his people to live in peace”.

As the Pope was about to get into a black limousine guarded by men in Black, Shimon Peres told him “I shall see you this evening”, and Benyamin Netanyahu said “I’ll see you in Nazaretz”. [Then, Netanyahu flew to Egypt for a brief visit with President Mubarak.] The Pope then boarded a military helicopter painted in desert-camouflage colors for the ride to Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. A few minutes later, military escort planes could be heard flying over north-eastern Jerusalem.

Pope being welcomed to Israel by Shimon Peres - AP photo

The Israeli Government activities for the Pope on Monday, as communicated by the Government Press Office (GPO), which is part of the Prime Minister’s Office:
Arrival reception at Ben Gurion Airport – 11:00 am estimated
Reception Ceremony at Mount Scopus – 12:00 noon
Ceremony at President’s Residence – 16:00 pm
Visit to Yad Vashem – 17:30 pm
Meeting of Religious Leaders at Notre Dame – 19:00

The Pope’s schedule in East Jerusalem, as communicated from the Palestinian Presidency Press Office in Ramallah (with a temporary media center at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem — UPDATE: WHICH HAS JUST BEEN SHUT DOWN BY ORDER OF THE ISRAELI POLICE,  OR MAYBE JUST THE PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR 13:00 HAS BEEN CANCELLED, WHICH PERHAPS MAY BE RELOCATED TO UM KAMEL’S PROTEST TENT DOWN THE HILL. The cancellation is all the more surprising because the two speakers are both important religious figures in Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who were supposed to be discussing “the Pope’s meeting at the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem and the interfaith dialogue in general” …:
East Jerusalem Monday, May 11th, 2009
12:30 Arrival at the Apostolic Delegation.
18:30 To the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

Pope arrives at residence of Israel's State President

The Pope and Shimon Peres plant an olive tree at the Israeli presidential residence - AP Photo/Oded Balilty, Pool

The merged and annotated schedule for today is:
Arrival reception at Ben Gurion Airport – 11:00 am estimated
Reception Ceremony at Mount Scopus – 12:00 noon
Arrival at the Apostolic Delegation – 12:30
Ceremony at President’s Residence – 16:00 pm
It was announced on Sunday that Shimon Peres called Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and invited him to take part in his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Pope Benedict agreed ahead of time to meet with Noam Shalit and to work personally to help in the effort to bring Gilad Shalit home. The meeting of President Peres, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Shalit family will be held immediately following the political meeting between President Peres and the Pope tomorrow at 16:10 at the President’s Residence. The Office of the President attaches great importance to the meeting between the Pope and the Shalit family, as the Pope represents over one billion Catholic believers worldwide. He routinely travels all around the world to meet with political and religious leaders, and his assistance can be a great asset in the struggle to bring Gilad home.
Visit to Yad Vashem – 17:30 pm
To the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center – 18:30.
Meeting of Religious Leaders at Notre Dame – 19:00

Pope observes moment of silence during ceremony at Yad Vashem's Hall of Remembrance

According to the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) summary and translation of today’s Hebrew Press, Israel’s largest-selling newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, “reminds its readers that Pope Benedict XVI, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, ‘opposed the approach that championed a negative attitude towards Jews and condemned the Jewish state, and was one of the architects of the establishment of relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel’. Yisrael Hayom suggests that ‘It is difficult to categorize’ Pope Benedict XVI beyond defining him as a staunch conservative, and notes that ‘There have been ups and downs’, in the Jewish People’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church” The author rejects calls to either boycott, or turn a cold shoulder to, the Papal visit and reminds his readers that an active dialogue with the Vatican bolsters Israel’s standing in the eyes of Catholics the world over”. [The GPO wrote that Aviad Klingberg wrote the article in Yediot Ahronot, and Dan Margalit wrote the article in Yisrael Hayom.]


Today there were two episodes of one-upsmanship:

(1) At the Pope’s arrival in Jerusalem at the Mount Scopus helipad, behind Haddasah Hospital (Mount Scopus), where the Pope was greeted by the relatively-new mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat (the AP pool report submitted to the Foreign Press Association (FPA) reported that “As the pope left the helicopter, surrounded by clergy and dignitaries, loudspeakers played ‘Jerusalem of Gold’, a song that commemorates Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war”.    Barakat later stated that “I presented him with an ancient map with Jerusalem at the center of the world”, but the AP pool report said that “Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed Benedict, who stood by his side on a podium, and gave the pontiff an etching reproducing an ancient map depicting Jerusalem at the center of the world”.

(2) A second AP pool report for the FPA said that at the end of an otherwise totally politically – and religiously – correct interfaith gathering at Notre Dame Church just outside the Old City, the appointed head of the Islamic Courts of the West Bank and Gaza, Sheikh Taysir Tamimi,  “commandeered the microphone and began to criticize Israel in Arabic. He was not scheduled to speak. Some people clapped, but many appeared uncomfortable and the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, walked across the stage and tapped him on the hand as he implored him to stop. Tamimi finished the speech after several minutes and sat down. It was not clear whether the Pope understood the tirade, and he did not react. Some quotes from Tamimi’s speech: He welcomed the pope to Jerusalem, which he called ‘the eternal political, national and spiritual capital of Palestine’. He referred to Muslim history in Jerusalem. Muslims and Christians must work together against Israel, he said: ‘We struggle together and we suffer together from the injustice of the Israeli occupation and its oppressive practices, and we look forward to freedom and independence’. He referred to Israel’s West Bank separation barrier as the ‘racist wall’, saying it ‘turned it (Palestine) into a giant prison and keeps Muslims and Christians from praying in their churches and mosques’. On Gaza: ‘in its (Israel’s) aggression in the Gaza strip it violated human rights in a way unprecendented in this era’. [Tamimi said] ‘His holiness the pope, I call on you in the name of the one God to condemn these crimes and pressure the Israeli government to stop its aggression against the Palestinian people’. He sat down, some people clapped, and then everyone left”. A little while later, the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) sent out an email containing, in both Italian and in English, what was reported as a “Statement from Papal Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi”, which read: “The intervention of Sheikh Tayssir Attamimi was not scheduled by the organizers of the meeting. In a meeting dedicated to dialogue this intervention was a direct negation of what a dialogue should be. We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Pope aiming at promoting peace and also interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions during this pilgrimage. We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be compromised by this incident”.

[n.b., the Latin Patriarch, Archbishop Fouad Twal, who is reported here to have tried to stop Sheikh Tamimi’s “unauthorized” statement, was quoted in Haaretz last week as saying “The thing that worries me most is the speech that the Pope will deliver here … One word for the Muslims and I’m in trouble; one word for the Jews and I’m in trouble. At the end of the visit the Pope goes back to Rome and I stay here with the consequences.”]

Both Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post reported later, somewhat unconvincingly, that the Pope walked out after Tamimi’s “unauthorized” statement. Haaretz reported that “al-Tamimi accused Israel of slaughtering women, children and senior citizens. The speech was delivered in Arabic, without simultaneous translation, but after the pope was informed of the political nature of al-Tamimi’s speech, he left the conference … ‘Israel destroyed our home, exiled our people, built settlements, ruined the Muslim holy sites, and slaughtered women, children and senior citizens in Gaza’, he continued. At this point, the conference’s organizers tried to persuade al-Tamimi to end his spontaneous speech, but to no avail … Al-Tamimi shook the pope’s hand as he left the podium and the meeting broke up as scheduled immediately afterwards. The director general of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, Oded Wiener, said that ‘Sheikh Tamimi embarrassed the pope’. He said Tamimi, a familiar and fiery figure in Palestinian public life, had pressured the Catholic organisers to be allowed to speak and that the Jewish members would no longer take part in a long-standing, three-way interfaith dialogue until the sheikh was barred from attending. ‘The Chief Rabbinate will not continue it as long as Tamimi is part of the Palestinian delegation’, Wiener said … The incident further marred the start of the German-born pope’s five-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories, after criticism by some Jews that a speech at a Holocaust memorial did not go far enough to mend Catholic-Jewish rifts”. This Haaretz report can be read in full here.

UPDATE: Journalists who attended the interfaith dialog in Notre Dame assure me that Archbishop Twal had indeed acceeded to Tamimi’s request to speak — though it was Twal who then tried to stop Tamimi from speaking mid-stream, or at least he visibly and publicly tried to curtail Tamimi’s remarks.  [The next day, these journalists attended the Mass with the Pope at Gethsemane and said that Archbishop Twal had in fact been quite the hero of the day at that event, making remarks not so different from Tamimi’s, although perhaps more eloquently, and less stupidly.  Then, the day after that, the Pope endorsed Twal’s remarks at Gethsemane by saying, at Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, “I am grateful to Patriarch Fouad Twal for the sentiments which he has expressed on your behalf”.  The “your” refers to “my brothers and sisters in the faith, in these Palestinian territoires [sic – the Pope’s text uses the plural of territory, despite the preferred UN usage of the singular, according to the reasoning of the Oslo Accords, endorsed by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on The Wall]”.

Haaretz published a Reuters photo of Tamimi making his “unauthorized” statement at the Notre Dame Church’s interfaith dialog:

Sheikh al-Tamimi making unauthorized statement at Notre Dame interfaith meeting during Papal visit

The Jerusalem Post reported that Tamimi “staged an identical verbal attack against Israel during Pope John Paul II’s visit in March 2000”.  The JPost wrote that this time, “A leading Palestinian cleric commandeered an evening devoted to interfaith dialogue with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday to rant against Israel for ‘killing Gaza’s children’, ‘bulldozing Palestinian homes’ and ‘destroying mosques’ … He also called for the immediate return of all Palestinian refugees, and called on Christians and Muslims to unite against Israel. Tamimi invoked the name of Saladin, the Muslim sultan who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. Tamimi said that unlike Israel, Saladin upheld the religious freedoms of all faiths … When Tamimi finished, applause could be heard from a few dozen in an audience of a few hundred … Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. However, he shook Tamimi’s hand before walking out … The Foreign Ministry and Tourism Ministry released a joint statement saying it was “very unfortunate” that the sheikh took advantage of the event to ‘wildly incite against Israel’.” The JPost report can be read in full here

AFP summarized the major sources of angst in the Israeli sector of the Pope’s visit: “[H]e will pointedly not visit the area of the memorial where a caption under a photo of Pius XII says the war-time pope failed to protest against the Holocaust — a stance that has angered the Vatican which disputes the claim. Benedict unleashed a torrent of criticism in January when he lifted the excommunication of Holocaust-denying British bishop Richard Williamson and three other ultra-conservative bishops in what he called a ‘discreet gesture of mercy’. There is also concern among Jews over the Pius beatification and Benedict’s membership of the Hitler Youth, although he has said he was enrolled against his will after membership became compulsory in 1941”. This AFP report can be read in full here.  [Apparently the Pope reversed his decision to rescind the excommunication of Williamson, according to recent references in wire service reports which I do not have the time t– or, frankly, the interest — to follow up at the moment… ]

Peres: Israel will never accept the UN Board of Inquiry report on Israeli-caused deaths and damage at UN installations in Gaza

It’s not the UN Secretary-General’s fault, according to Israel’s State President Shimon Peres, but Israel does not like the UN Board of Inquiry’s report on deaths, injuries, and damage to property at UN installations in Gaza caused during the IDF’s three-week Operation Cast Lead.

“We think it’s outrageous [the Board of Inquiry report on IDF damage to UN installations in Gaza]. We will never accept it. We don’t think we have to apologize because we have the right to defend the lives of our children and women.”

Peres was at UNHQ/NY to meet the UNSG BAN Ki-Moon on Wednesday.

Shimon Peres meets BAN Ki-Moon - 6 May 2009

Israel argues that it did not intentionally hit any UN targets in Gaza — though the Board of Inquiry disagrees — and Israel insists that everything that happened is the fault of Hamas (for firing at Israel, for hiding amongst civilians etc.), and not of Israel.

Peres told journalists at a stake-out in the Secretariat building after his meeting with the UNSG that the Board of Inquiry report is a “problem”, and he complained that instead of just looking at the damage to UN installations, the Board of Inquiry “decided to look at the whole situation in Gaza”.

“We don’t accept one word of what the Board wrote … they were unfair. They were one-sided”, Peres said. A journalist asked why Israel is so upset about the report, Peres replied: “We are outraged because they didn’t mention Hamas”, Peres said.  ” If the Hamas wouldn’t shoot, there would be no problems”, he added.

“About the white phosphorus, we checked it. We don’t think we overstepped the international rules. It wasn’t aimed at people. It was aimed to warn people”, Peres told the journalists. He added that “250,000 telephone calls were made to warn people” to leave places that were about to be hit.

Would Israel acknowledge that its accusations of fire coming from UNRWA schools were untrue? Peres said there were accusations against Israel that were untrue, too. “We don’t want to cover up anything. If there were mistakes, we should correct them”, he said.

The UNSG’s spokesperson told journalists at the UN’s regular daily briefing on Wednesday that BAN “is currently reviewing its recommendations” of his Board of Inquiry’s report.

What about the 4,000 rockets coming from Gaza that hit Israel, Peres asked, rhetorically. “If those gentlemen [the members of the UN Board of Inquiry] can’t stop shooting, they shouldn’t be judges”, Peres said of the members of the UN Board of Inquiry.

In response to a question from a journalist, Peres said that the issue of compensation to the UN is “under consideration”, and he added that the government has appointed a committee to handle it, and that there should be an answer soon.

Peres also said: “I admit that we made some mistakes, but I don’t know of any war where mistakes weren’t made. We did not want to kill a single civilian, but war is terrible and our soldiers too were killed by IDF fire. Did we kill our soldiers on purpose? Of course not”.

What should be done is to stop a war from happening in the first place, Peres said.

“We don’t look upon Arabs as enemies. We don’t view Moslems as enemies … Let those fanatics stop shooting”, Peres said.

Meanwhile the German news agency DPA reported Thursday that the UN Security Council had discussed but failed to agree on what to do about the UN Board of Inquiry report.  The Council members only received an abbreviated summary of the report, while the full report has been labeled an internal document.  “Council president, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, said council members discussed ‘the modality of possible handling by the Security Council of the summary’.  ‘We have not reached an agreement on the subject’, he told reporters. He said he would discuss further ‘if and how’ the council should take up the summary”.   This DPA report was published by Haaretz here.

So many white volvos – new Netanyahu government officially takes over

This is a pool report for members of the Foreign Press Association prepared by the New York Times:

“At around 9.15 Wednesday morning Israeli ministers (incoming and outgoing) and top officials began arriving in a line of white Volvos and gathered at the breakfast buffet at the President’s House, where they mingled for a while before the official handover of powers.

“This was the first time the handover took place at the President’s House – in previous years it took place in a small room at the PM’s office with PM’s staff only. It was announced that this would be the start of a new custom – from now on, it will take place at the President’s House.,,
Continue reading So many white volvos – new Netanyahu government officially takes over