Israel to Fight Goldstone Report on War Crimes

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JERUSALEM - Israel's Security Cabinet has rejected a demand from the United Nations Human Rights Council that Israel start its own investigation into the U.N.-sponsored Goldstone Report's accusations that Israel committed war crimes during its military campaign in the Gaza Strip last winter.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak stopped a Cabinet debate over whether to launch an inquiry, saying that Israel's compliance with the demand would further damage Israel internationally. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed with Barak. His office released a statement quoting the prime minister as saying, "Our struggle is to deleglitimize the continuing attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel."

"The most important sphere we need to work in is the sphere of public opinion in the democratis world," Netanyahu said.

Israel's top leaders, including Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, are united in their belief that the Goldstone Report and the U.N. Human Rights Council are hopelessly biased against Israel.

The Security Cabinet commissioned a group to wage a legal and diplomatic war to prevent the United Nations from attempting to have Israeli military or political leaders put on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Part of the diplomatic effort will be to persuade the Obama Administration to use its U.N. veto power to stop anti-Israel action in the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. voted against approving the Human Rights Council's endorsement of the Goldstone Report last Friday, but the endorsement passed by a vote of 25 to 6, with 11 abstentions.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted its own inquiry into the Gaza operation, and found that the Army was not guilty of of systematic wrongdoing. Barak again praised the IDF Tuesday for defending Israelis against 8 years of rocket attacks coming from terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Sources, AP, The Jerusalem Post

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