JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United Nations Human Rights Council said it will continue to use the Goldstone Report as written, despite its author’s retraction of a key finding.
Council spokesman Cedric Sapey told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot on Monday that the Op-Ed written by Richard Goldstone appearing in The Washington Post of April 2 was his personal opinion and not that of the rest of the committee.
Sapey had told The Associated Press on Monday that Goldstone would have to submit a formal request signed by all of the committee members to withdraw the report. The Goldstone committee, which examined the conduct of Israel and Hamas during the monthlong Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, was disbanded after the report was filed.
The council last month voted to send the report to the U.N. General Assembly with the recommendation that the U.N. Security Council be asked to turn it over to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in the Hague to examine possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of Israeli officials and organizations have called on the United Nations to cancel the Goldstone Report after the former South African judge wrote in his Op-Ed that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the Goldstone Report released in September 2009.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday that Washington officials read Goldstone’s Op-Ed "with great interest."
"We’ve made clear from when the Goldstone Report was initially presented and maintained ever since that we didn’t see any evidence that the Israeli Government had intentionally targeted civilians or otherwise engaged in any war crimes," Toner told reporters. "And now that we see that Justice Goldstone has reached the same conclusion, and then also we believe that Israel has since undertaken credible internal processes to assess its own conduct of hostilities, and I think that’s something that he acknowledged as well."
A spokesman for the British Foreign Office told The Jerusalem Post that it does not support a retraction of the Goldstone Report.
"Justice Goldstone has not made such a call, and he has not elaborated on his views surrounding the various other allegations contained in the report — allegations which we firmly believe require serious follow-up by the parties to the conflict," a Foreign Office spokesman told the newspaper on Monday night.
Meanwhile, Yediot Achronot reported Tuesday that Goldstone has accepted an invitation from Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to visit Israel and tour its southern communities, which have been besieged by Hamas rockets.
Yishai said he called Goldstone to thank him for his reassessment and to invite him to visit the country. Goldstone reportedly will visit Israel in July as a guest of Yishai.