At a private breakfast meeting at the International Peace Institute, a think tank across the street from the UN, Israeli President Shimon Peres told all 15 members of the Security Council and the ambassadors of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority that the unrest in the Arab world affects us all, making it “imperative for all world leaders to ensure that the democratic needs of the protesters are met” because there is no turning back the tide against oppression.
Occasionally looking directly at Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Peres, the now 87-year-old statesman, said attempts to proclaim a Palestinian state through the UN without peace talks will serve no purpose other than to exacerbate the peace process. Sincere “negotiations between responsible peace partners” is what is really needed, not dictating from the outside world that has no relevance to realities on the ground.
Peres said Israel took the painful step of pulling out of Gaza and in return received terror attacks from Hamas. “The same can be expected from the West Bank,” he said, should Israel pull out without infrastructure and political will among the Palestinians to maintain their end of steps toward peace.
The Israeli president also focused on the Goldstone Report, the UN-commissioned report in 2009 that accused Israel of war crimes, claiming that Israel had purposely targeted Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast led against Hamas. Peres said the UN report cited some 400 human rights abuses by Israel during the fighting and that, in the end, just three incidents of Israeli military misconduct were found to have some merit. Peres said those Israeli soldiers responsible will be held accountable because the army in Israel “has rifles and values.”
In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed, Judge Richard Goldstone belatedly admitted that his report unjustly accused Israel of war crimes. “If I had know then what I know now, the Goldstone report would have been a different document,” he wrote.
Acknowledging that it will prove extremely difficult to get the Goldstone Report dropped, he said, “The blocs in the UN are anti-Israeli and we don’t stand a chance for justice.” He said that despite the realization that Israel has been falsely maligned, “liable lives longer than denials.”
During tomorrow’s meeting at the UN, President Peres is expected to ask UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to rescind the Goldstone Report commission’s original finding.