Israel threatened on Wednesday that it would not renew peace talks with the Palestinians, unless a United Nations report accusing it of having committed war crimes during last winter’s Gaza war was dropped.
“Our argument is that as long as the Goldstone report is on the table and everywhere they are quoting it and supporting it — also states that are considered our friends — we cannot make progress in the peace process,” Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gabriella Shalev, said.
“We will not sit at the table and will not talk with bodies and people who accuse us of war crimes. That is simply unacceptable,” she said in an interview with Israel Radio.
Ms. Shalev called the report “distorted” and “one-sided,” reiterating Israel’s argument that the fact-finding committee headed by South African judge, Richard Goldstone, included members who had expressed advance judgements against Israel and that it was established by a Human Rights Council hostile to it.
Now was not a “comfortable time” to revive negotiations, as half the Palestinian areas continued to be controlled by the radical Islamist Hamas movement, Ms. Shalev said.
“So if they expect us to renew the peace process and to freeze settlements, we expect the international community to enable us to take risks (for peace) and not deny us — as this report does — our right to self-defence.” She spoke as the U.N. Human Rights Council announced Tuesday that it will open a new special session on the Goldstone report on Thursday.
Less than two weeks ago, the 47-member council agreed to postpone until March a vote on a draft resolution endorsing the report, following a request by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who yielded to U.S. and Israeli pressure.
Facing massive criticism at home, Mr. Abbas, however, reversed his decision and submitted a new request, co-sponsored by 18 members, to bring forward the debate.