Senate asks UN to retract report that accused Israel's military of war crimes

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution Thursday night that calls on the United Nations to retract allegations that the Israeli military committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip during "Operation Cast Lead" in late 2008 and early 2009.

The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Risch (R-Idaho), asks the UN Human Rights Council "to reflect the author's repudiation of the Goldstone report's central findings, rescind the report and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report's findings."

The resolution refers to a UN report authored by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, who stepped back from his allegations against Israel in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month.

"If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document," Goldstone said in the op-ed.

The Israeli government and its defense forces have disputed the findings of that report since it was released in September 2009. Many members of the government said they viewed Goldstone's op-ed as a vindication of their actions in the Gaza War.

"I think our soldiers and army behaved according to the highest standards during our ‘Operation Cast Lead,’" said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Goldstone's op-ed. "We expect this farce to be rectified immediately."

The Senate resolution, which also called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to "do all in his power to redress the damage to Israel's reputation," had more than thirty co-sponsors in the Senate.

"The Goldstone report must be rescinded by the UN Human Rights Council," Risch said in a statement released after the resolution had been passed. "It is a grossly flawed, one-sided document and for the United Nations to continue using this report shows a bias against the nation of Israel. Every country has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.”

The chances that the UN will take the Senate's advice are slim because other members of the commission stand by the report's findings.

“The report of the [2009] fact-finding mission contains the conclusions made after diligent, independent and objective consideration of the information related to the events within our mandate, and careful assessment of its reliability and credibility,” said Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers in a joint-op-ed Thursday in The Guardian. “We firmly stand by these conclusions.”