Bibi, Lieberman Fight Goldstone

Israeli leaders are working hard to prevent the Goldstone Report from winning approval in Friday's vote at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 13:28

Netanyahu (L) with Lieberman
Netanyahu (L) with Lieberman
Israel news photo: (file)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are both working hard to prevent the Goldstone Report from winning approval in Friday's vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, but it appears the report -- which accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza -- is likely to be endorsed nonetheless.

Both Lieberman and Netanyahu have argued that by charging Israel's army with war crimes due to civilian deaths in a war on terrorists, the report would hamper attempts to fight terrorism and thus hurt the chances of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu began campaigning against the report in September, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Terming the report “a farce” and accusing the UNHRC of “twisted standards,” the prime minister warned, “Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.”

Netanyahu spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for several minutes this past Tuesday, and warned again that the report would harm the Israel-PA peace process. Ban told Netanyahu, “I have recorded your position, but I cannot intervene.”

Lieberman met with several European representatives in the month of October and attempted to convince them to support Israel on Goldstone. However, in his meetings with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, Lieberman failed to convince his counterparts to vote against the adaptation of the report.

Lieberman repeatedly warned foreign diplomats that if the Goldstone Report is accepted, other countries fighting terrorists will be at risk of facing war crimes charges as well. “There is an attempt to compromise the democratic states' ability to defend themselves,” he said in early October. “Israel being the first one... Next the NATO forces in Afghanistan, then claims against Russia.”

UNHRC Session on 'Occupied Territory' in Swing
The U.N. Human Rights Council began a special session Thursday on “The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [Judea, Samaria and Gaza – ed.] and East Jerusalem.” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, of South Africa, opened the meeting by accusing Israel of impinging on Muslims' freedom to worship by closing the Temple Mount to young Muslim men following violent riots.

Pillay did not condemn the fact that the Temple Mount had been closed to all Jews and Christians for the same reason.

She also accused Israel of violating international law by limiting the entrance of goods to Gaza via Israeli crossings in the Negev, and expressed support for the Goldstone Report.

The PA joined in, accusing Israel of “Judaizing” Jerusalem and “altering its cultural identity.” Israel criticized the UNHRC session as unjustified, and explained that both the limitation on Temple Mount prayer and IDF counterterror measures in Gaza were necessary to prevent violence.