U.N.'s Goldstone criticizes U.S. reaction to Gaza report

BERLIN Sun Nov 8, 2009 6:24am EST

Richard Goldstone, Head of Fact Finding Mission on Gaza looks on during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Richard Goldstone, Head of Fact Finding Mission on Gaza looks on during a news conference at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva September 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of a U.N. investigation that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, Richard Goldstone, has said he is disappointed there has been such a "lukewarm" reaction to his findings in the United States.

The report by Goldstone, a South African jurist, lambasted both sides in the December-January war, which killed up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, but was harsher toward Israel.

It gave Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants six months to mount credible investigations or face possible prosecution in The Hague. Both Israel and Hamas denied committing war crimes.

"The reactions in the international community were very mixed, but the lukewarm from the United States disappointed me," Goldstone told das Parlament, a weekly political newspaper published by Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

"The fact that the reactions from Israel were so violent really surprised me at times," he added, according to the German text of his comments published on Sunday.

"I had that hoped our call to take legal steps and pursue people at a national level would fall on more open ears."

Israel has criticized the report as unbalanced and says the 47-nation Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, is biased against the Jewish state.

The 71-year-old Goldstone, who led a commission of inquiry into political violence and police hit squad activities in the early 1990s in his homeland, is himself Jewish.

A UNHRC resolution last month censured Israel for its actions in the Gaza war without referring to any wrongdoing by Hamas. The United States voted against it.

President Barack Obama is under pressure to restart stalled peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

Critics accuse his administration of failing to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a step seen by many as a precondition for peace negotiations.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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