Addressing Judge Richard Goldstone's recent Washington Post op-ed, US State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that the US long held that Israel did not engage in war crimes during Operation Cast Lead, in a press briefing Monday. Goldstone wrote last week that Israel did not have a policy of targeting civilians and accused the UNHRC of conducting itself with a bias towards Israel.
"We've made clear from when the Goldstone Report was initially presented and maintained ever since that we didn't see any evidence that the Israeli government had intentionally targeted civilians or otherwise engaged in any war crimes," he said.
He added that the US concurs with Goldstone's assertion that Jerusalem has "undertaken credible internal processes to assess its own conduct of hostilities."
Toner also discussed the United Nations Human Rights Council, which Goldstone criticized for having a clear anti-Israel bias. The US remains concerned by "and will continue working to an end to the – what we believe is anti-Israeli – Israel bias in the Human Rights Council," he said.
Also on Monday, US Congressman Eliot Engel (Dem.-NY) called on the United Nations to retract the Goldstone Report and said he will personally make a request to that end to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice later this week.
Referring to Goldstone's Washington Post op-ed, Engel said, "Now that Mr. Goldstone has seen the error of his ways, it is time for the United Nations to retract the report."
"The report was biased against Israel from the very start and I am glad to see Mr. Goldstone retract his earlier false findings," he added. "Perhaps this will stop the international community from rushing to judgment against Israel in the future - but I doubt it."
Expanding on attitudes toward Israel in the United Nations, the congressman said that the report was "just one of many instances" where bias is shown against the Jewish State. "It has gotten to the point where Israel no longer trusts the UN, and that is a very unfortunate development."
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