Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PM to decide on inquiry committee on Goldstone claims

Ministers to debate whether Israeli 'war crimes' probe would lessen or worsen international pressure

Roni Sofer

The Cabinet is set to convene Tuesday morning in order to debate the international battle waged by Israel against the reverberations of the Goldstone Report, which claims Israel committed war crimes in Gaza.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet announced whether he will order the establishment of an inquiry committee on Operation Cast Lead. Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi have expressed their objection to such a move while the Justice Ministry said it may lend its support.

Barak and Ashkenazi believe such a committee would bolster international criticism against Israel. They say inquiries already conducted by the IDF after the operation are morally valid and that parties guilty of infractions of military code have already been punished.

But international pressure to establish an Israeli inquiry committee is growing steadily, and some in Israel are voicing their support.

The Attorney General's Office has said it would support such a move, and the Meretz Party has also voiced its support. The prime minister said he would hear from official sources on the matter, including experts from the foreign and defense ministries as well as the IDF.

In addition to the debate on the Goldstone report, Cabinet ministers will also discuss Israel's policy on battling pro-Iranian terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Comment: Perfect opportunity for Israel to say to the International Community-we did do such an analysis, many, many months ago-the report was made available to you all. We anticipate that you will be as forthcoming with Hamas, Fatah, Hizzbollah and Iran in the coming months requesting that they perform their own internal study into war crimes-until then, back off!

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