Elior Levy
April 3, 2011 - 12:00am

While Israel is overjoyed with Richard Goldstone's change of heart vis-à-vis the report that blamed the Jewish State of committing war crimes during the Gaza war, the Palestinian Authority is furious at the South African judge.

In a press release published on Sunday, Nabil Abu Rodeina, the spokesperson to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said that Goldstone's comments "do not change the fact that Israel committed a massacre and war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, leaving more than 1,500 Palestinians dead."

In a conversation with Ynet, head of the PA General Intelligence Service in the West Bank Tawfik Tirawi accused Israel of applying heavy pressure on Goldstone to admit his mistakes. "If Goldstone went back on his word, it was most probably as a result of heavy pressure from Israel, otherwise he would not have done so," he stated.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbo also slammed the Jewish judge's Washington Post article during a radio interview on the Voice of Palestine.

Abed Rabbo reiterated the Palestinian position, according to which Israel committed war crimes during the war in Gaza.

'Succumbed to pressure'

Fatah senior official Nabil Shaath claimed that despite Goldstone's comments, Israel still carries the sole responsibililty for the killing of innocent Palestinian citizens.

In an interview with Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam, Shaath estimated that Goldstone succumbed to mounting pressure, which he could no longer bear.

Anger over Goldstone's article transcended beyond Palestinian partisanship, stirring a storm also in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas addressed the United Nations, demanding to implement the report, claiming it was commissioned by the organization, and not personally by Goldstone.

"The (Hamas) organization is disappointed with Goldstone's new stance, which accepts Israel's position," read a statement published by Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhari.

Hamas also claimed that Israel refused to cooperate with the fact finding mission and rejected the report's conclusions, while the Islamic group provided the investigation team with all necessary material.

'He doesn't regret it'

In a conversation with Ynet, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative Party Dr. Mustafa Barghouti said he was certain that the South African judge still stands behind what is written in the report.

"I've heard him talk about this issue many times and I know he's sure of what he wrote in the report. I believe he doesn't regret it," said Barghouti.

According to him, aside from Goldstone other people were also behind the report. "He had all the information he needed and it's a fact that Israel refused to accept it. I'm convinced everything that's written there is the truth."

Barghouti admitted Hamas committed war crimes when shooting rockets towards populated areas filled with civilians. However he claimed Israel used disproportionate force. "How many Israelis have been killed and how many Palestinians? You do the math."

He added that he believes it makes no difference what is either said or written. "I was in Gaza after the operation and saw what happened there. What happened was a war crime," he said.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017