/ 18 September 2009

Netanyahu: UN inquiry into Gaza war was ‘fixed game’

The United Nations inquiry into last winter’s Gaza war was a ”fixed game”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in interviews with major Israeli media outlets published ahead of the Jewish New Year starting on Friday.

”This game was fixed. This was a field trial, the result of which was known in advance,” he told Channel 2 television, charging that the UN Human Rights Council had phrased a mandate for the mission that had assumed Israel was guilty of war crimes in advance.

”From this mandate, they say in advance that Israel carried out war crimes and now they are filling in the blanks,” he said.

Calling the report released on Tuesday by the UN fact-finding mission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone a ”prize for terrorism”, Netanyahu lent his voice to a cascade of harsh Israeli reactions.

The report said the Goldstone mission had found ”strong evidence” that both Israeli and Palestinian militants had committed war crimes during the three weeks of fighting last December and January.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday that ”the Goldstone report is trying to bring the UN back to the dark days when it resolved, at the instigation of countries with a vested interest, that Zionism is racism”.

President Shimon Peres said a day earlier the report made a ”mockery of history”.

Netanyahu said he would speak with prominent world leaders in the coming days and urge them to condemn the report.

”First of all, I will tell the world leaders that they are also suffering from terrorism. It is not just our problem because if IDF [Israel Defence Forces] officers, commanders, soldiers and pilots, and even [Israeli] leaders, will be accused, you also will be accused. What, Nato will not fight in various places? Russia will not fight in various places?”

Goldstone, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 1 television on Wednesday, vehemently rejected the Israeli allegations against his report.

”I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed,” he said, insisting he had been ”completely independent” and that ”nobody dictated any outcome”.

”I just feel that there was a very quick rejection of the report I think even before anybody read it.”

Israel launched the offensive, which lasted 22 days, on December 27 in a bid to curb near-daily rocket and mortar shells from Gaza at its southern towns and villages.

Human rights groups say about 1 400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the massive Israeli bombardments and in ground fighting. Thirteen Israelis were also killed. — Sapa-dpa