Israel to Launch Quiet Diplomatic Campaign in Wake of Goldstone Retraction

Foreign Ministry proposes that Israel initially seek to lobby the UN to adopt the Goldstone op-ed as an official position paper, or as an appendage to the original Goldstone report.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel decided Tuesday against waging a full-scale public relations campaign centered around Justice Richard Goldstone's op-ed on the report his fact-finding committee issued after Operation Cast Lead.

In the op-ed, which appeared over the weekend in The Washington Post, Goldstone retracted damning conclusions about Israel that had appeared in his UN-sponsored report in September of 2009.

Richard Goldstone during a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 29, 2009. Credit: AP

According to a senior official in Jerusalem, it was decided that the government should initiate quiet diplomatic steps aimed at urging the United Nations to adopt the op-ed as an official statement. The decision was made following a meeting convened by National Security Adviser Ya'akov Amidror.

Since the publication of Goldstone's op-ed, Israel has been seeking to halt legal proceedings that were launched as a result of his UN report. Government officials are looking for ways to use the article as leverage for a renewed diplomatic push against the Goldstone report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers favor the launching of an international media blitz, as part of an Israeli campaign to demand the nullification of the report, which, among other things, accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza offensive.

Foreign Ministry officials immediately understood that the chances of the report being rescinded are virtually non-existent, and that the government should therefore aim for more modest goals.

Diplomats said Israel should utilize channels to lobby UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, and other Western countries that can provide assistance on this issue.

Diplomats also warned against an aggressive media campaign, to avoid provoking the Palestinian Authority as well as Arab and other countries from mounting their own counter-campaigns.

Amidror convened numerous officials from every relevant government ministry to discuss the matter. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Foreign Ministry's position was accepted.

The ministry proposes that Israel initially seek to lobby the UN to adopt the Goldstone op-ed as an official position paper, or as an appendage to the original Goldstone report.

This would be tantamount to official UN recognition of Goldstone's retraction of some of his earlier assertions.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to dispatch an official communique to Ban and Pillay in the next few days.



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