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U.N. accused of setting up Israeli officials

Judge Richard Goldstone

An organization that holds special “consultative status” with a branch of the United Nations is accusing the international body of setting up Israeli officials for unjustified war crimes prosecutions with a biased report on the nation’s 2008 conflict with Hamas.

The charge is being leveled by officials with the European Centre for Law and Justice, an international law firm focusing on the protection of human rights and religious freedom in Europe and worldwide.

In an evaluation of the U.N.’s Goldstone Report on the military conflict, the ECLJ challenged the objectivity of the report that levels accusations of war crimes against Israel and “encourages states and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to exercise universal jurisdiction to prosecute the Israelis.”

“The real danger from the Goldstone Report is that countries will believe the many falsehoods contained in it and urge the International Criminal Court to try Israeli officials for war crimes that they did not commit and, in fact, took Herculean measures to avoid,” said Robert Ash, a senior litigation counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, the ECLJ’s American division, and an attorney who worked extensively on the report.

The U.N. Human Rights Council authorized a “fact-finding” mission the ECLJ said was pre-loaded with critics of Israel to investigate “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

But the ECLJ said even the authorizing resolution was biased, determining that Israel was an “occupying power” and calling the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

“The Goldstone Report makes a mockery of objective fact-finding,” Ash said. “Instead of commending Israel for its efforts to avoid the Gaza conflict in the first place and then to avoid civilian casualties once the war began, the Goldstone Report blames Israel and gives a pass to Hamas and its terrorist allies who triggered the conflict.

“By exonerating Hamas from its responsibility for causing the war and for placing Palestinian civilians at risk, the Goldstone Report provides Hamas terrorists with a propaganda victory which encourages them to try the same thing again,” he warned.

The ECLJ has posted its comments online and also is making available a full copy of its analysis.

“The ECLJ is concerned about the flawed methodology of the mission’s report, the pre-conceived biases of its authors and the speculative legal and factual conclusions that exceeded the scope of the mission’s mandate,” the ECLJ said.

The organization challenged the U.N.’s report on the conflict that began Dec. 27, 2008, when Israel soldiers, in response to Hamas’ renewed rocket and mortar attacks on civilian targets, launched a three-week military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. reporting, ” the ECLJ report said, “relied exclusively upon one-sided sources who had only second-hand knowledge (at best) of facts and had no knowledge of any intelligence relied upon by Israeli forces in deciding what to target and when. The mission selected 36 incidents to investigate, which, by the mission’s own acknowledgment, were selected to further the conclusion that Israel’s actions were unjustified.”

The U.N. documentation “omitted critical information about Hamas, such as the fact that it is considered a terrorist group by most of the world, or that its founding charter declares that ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it’ and that ‘there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad,'” the ECLJ report said.

“The Goldstone Report lacks credibility; it should not be relied upon by any international body, including the [U.N.] Security Council, or any court seeking to serve the cause of justice,” the ECLJ said.

While the U.N., for example, accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians, retired British Col. Richard Kemp told the BBC, “I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more effort to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the [Israel Defense Forces] is doing … in Gaza.”

The ECLJ report said the bias is not limited just to the single report, either.

“Nearly half of [the U.N. Human Rights Council] resolutions condemning specific states (23 out of 48) have been directed at Israel. On 30 January 2006, the UNHRC even voted to review potential Israeli human rights abuses at every session,” the report said.

The report was named after Richard Goldstone, an international jurist who admitted in an interview with Bill Moyers he chose the 36 incidents to investigate “because they seemed to be, to represent the most serious, the highest death toll, the highest injury toll. And they appear to represent situations where there was little or no military justification for what happened,” the ECLJ report said.

“In other words, the mission purposely selected incidents that it thought would reflect
most poorly on Israel. Clearly, that sort of biased, agenda-driven methodology could
not possibly produce an accurate account of the overall facts,” the ECLJ said.

The ECLJ report also said the Goldstone report’s four authors all previously had indicated a bias against Israel, including one, Christine Chinkin, who had accused Israel of war crimes.