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Congressional initiatives targeting Goldstone report

April 11, 2011 | 11:19 am

Legislation calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report is circulating in both houses of Congress.

A Senate resolution, introduced April 8 by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and James Risch (R-Idaho), calls on the U.N. 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.”

Richard Goldstone, in an April 2 Washington Post Op-Ed, said the 2009 report on the Gaza war he helped author was wrong in concluding that Israel had as a policy intentionally targeted civilians.

The former South African judge, who is Jewish, did not withdraw demands for investigations into the report’s findings that individual soldiers may have committed war crimes, and since publishing the Op-Ed has said he will not work to retract the report.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is circulating a letter asking colleagues to join her in sponsoring a U.N. accountability act to include language demanding the revocation of the Goldstone report, and withhold the U.S. portion of funds spent on Goldstone’s investigation and its follow-on consequences.

“This legislation will also condition funding to the U.N. on a number of other reforms that are vital to make the U.N. more transparent, accountable, effective, and objective,” the letter says.

Ros-Lehtinen’s letter also acknowledges that Goldstone’s “retraction” is not far reaching.

“Even while partially retracting his own unsubstantiated accusations, he still defends the report in many respects and puts the blame on Israel for not cooperating with his mission and providing it with exculpatory evidence,” she writes. “Given the mission’s biased origin and mandate, Israel was clearly justified in not wishing to legitimize those who would inevitably seek to falsely condemn her.”

Separately, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), a member of the Republican Study Conference, the GOP’s conservative caucus, is seeking sponsors for legislation that would withhold U.S. funding for the United Nations until the report is retracted.

Several House members, in statements and floor speeches, already have called on the Obama administration to press for the report’s rescission.

“The Goldstone report is a lie,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor April 7. “The United Nations should kill it once and for all, and we should be leading the way.”

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