Swedish FM Backs Goldstone Report
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt expressed support for the controversial Goldstone Report on Thursday. The report, in which Israel is accused of war crimes in connection to the Cast Lead counterterror offensive, is an “independent” and “serious” investigation that should be taken seriously by the world, he told Swedish Radio.
Bildt also gave his backing to Goldstone on a personal level, praising the South African judge's “credibility” and “integrity.”
The report should be discussed in the United Nations Human Rights Council, Bildt said. The UN Security Council said Wednesday that it would not hold an emergency session on the report, as requested by Libya, but would move up a monthly meeting on the Middle East to October 14 and allow the report to be discussed then.
Israel did not cooperate with Goldstone's investigation, fearing that the UN delegation was biased against Israel and would not accurately portray the Gaza conflict. Bildt described Israel's lack of cooperation as “a mistake.”
Israel Weighs Recalling Ambassador
Israeli officials, who have rejected the Goldstone report as biased and inaccurate, responded to Bildt's interview by accusing the Swedish FM of lacking “reading comprehension skills.” The report's bias is clear to anyone who reads it, they said.
On Thursday evening, the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot reported that Israel is considering recalling its ambassador to Sweden. “We have no interest in clashing with Sweden, but the time has come to reassess our relationship,” explained Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
Bildt Refused to Condemn Blood Libel
Bildt last clashed with Israel's Foreign Ministry less than two months ago, when he refused to condemn an article in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that accused Israeli soldiers of shooting Arabs and harvesting their organs. Israeli officials slammed the article as a modern-day blood libel.
At the time, Bildt argued that criticizing the article would deal a blow to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.