Israel Escalates Anti-UN Campaign; Its Most Important Diplomatic Battle in Years By Batoul Wehbe

17 September, 2009 — Al Manar TV

A day after the release of the critical Goldstone Commission report over Israeli crimes in Gaza, Israel continued its Anti-UN campaign.

“The Goldstone committee is a committee that was set up to find Israel guilty of crimes that were determined in advanced, and the committee’s members did not let the facts confuse them,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday, in his first comments in response to the harsh UN report investigation into the Israeli aggression on the Gaza strip.

According to the report: “Some of the actions of the Government of Israel might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have been committed,” and “…the Mission finds that there have been a number of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

Lieberman said the committee’s conclusions were “predetermined”, and he accused its members of serving the purposes of utilitarian countries. “The whole purpose of the report, from the moment the decision was made to write it, was to destroy Israel’s image, in service of countries where the terms ‘human rights’ and ‘combat ethics’ do not even appear in their dictionaries,” the foreign minister alleged.

Lieberman went on to say, “I can say wholeheartedly, as can any man that examines the matter in an objective manner, that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and it is forced to deal with the most vile terrorists, who set for themselves the goal of killing women and children, and hide behind women and children.” He said, “The Goldstone Report has no legal, factual or ethical value, and more than a testament to the State of Israel, it is a testament to the writers of the report and those that sent them.”

The foreign minister further claimed that “the Goldstone Report wishes to take the UN back to the dark ages, where it was also determined, through the leadership of utilitarian countries, that Zionism is racism.”

Lieberman’s response is one in a long line of censure and attacks against the report on the part of senior Israeli officials, which has been continuous since the report was published on Tuesday. The officials’ defensive response is meant to minimize possible damage the document could cause Israel.

“The Israeli government and mostly the Foreign Ministry must engage in a difficult battle in order to minimize the report’s damage. All hope is not lost, should the campaign be managed intensively and with determination on three fronts simultaneously – the diplomatic theater, the media front, and the military-legal arena – and while enlisting all the support Israel can get from the United States and from European states”, Yediot Ahronot reporter Ron Ben-Yishai analyzed in a report published on Thursday.

“This will be the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s first real and significant test for a long time now – it may be Israeli diplomacy’s most important battle since the struggle in the 1970s and 1980s that prompted the annulment of the UN resolution comparing Zionism to racism,” Ben-Yishai indicated.

Indeed, Israeli officials have started their campaign diplomatically and through the media.

In the wake of the UN report, numerous Israeli commentators have launched personal attacks on Goldstone, with one rightwing paper writing: “the liberal anti-Semitism strides delicately, appoints a hostile commission and finds an obsequious Jew, to dance to the tune of the gentile landowner.”

On the diplomatic front, Israel asked a number of senior members of the Obama administration to assist in curbing the international fallout from the Goldstone Commission report.

The Foreign Ministry decided Wednesday to focus their efforts to combat the report’s accusations on the United States, Russia and a few other members of the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council that are involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Israeli message is that the Goldstone report threatens those countries because it makes the war on “terror” very difficult, and therefore efforts must be made to prevent it from being brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who on Wednesday termed the report a “prize for terrorists” that makes it more difficult for democratic countries to combat them, will be speaking in the coming days to a list of prime ministers of countries represented on the Human Rights Council, lobbying them to oppose any resolution adopting the findings of the report.

Netanyahu said the commission, headed by South African Constitutional Court Judge Richard Goldstone, was a “kangaroo court” whose conclusions were drawn up before the hearings even started.

Netanyahu raised the issue with U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, while Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon discussed it with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and other senior officials.

The Foreign Ministry has established a forum of legal experts to follow any lawsuits that could be filed as a result of the report and to prepare for a scenario in which a suit would be brought forward in The Hague.

Ayalon, who is on a working visit to the United States, began Tuesday to transmit messages to senior members of the U.S. administration and Congress on the need to object to the report. He noted that the same approach that was taken to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism needs to be taken regarding the Goldstone report.

The Prime Minister’s Office decided Wednesday that President Shimon Peres would take the front lines in Israel’s campaign against the report. Netanyahu and Lieberman would not express themselves publicly on the matter, but would engage in quiet diplomacy.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said Wednesday that Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission was the right one. “We knew the report was going to be harsh, but Goldstone surprised us with how harsh,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said. “It just goes to show we were right not to cooperate. If we would have, we would have legitimized this scandal.”

Meanwhile, the head of the UN commission rejected Israeli criticism that it was biased from the start. “I deny that completely,” Judge Goldstone said in remarks broadcast on Thursday on public radio, a replay of an earlier interview with Israeli television. “I was completely independent, nobody dictated any outcome, and the outcome was a result of the independent inquiries that our mission made,” he said.

Goldstone rejected the Israeli charges and said the only thing he regretted was that Israel refused to cooperate with his team. “There is really nothing I can think of that I would do differently,” he said. “If there is any difference that I would have preferred, (it) would have been that we could have got cooperation from Israel and in particular, I would have liked the Israeli government to assist us and decide what we should investigate because that’s what I asked them to do.”

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