JERUSALEM, June 2 (UPI) -- Israel does not intend to cooperate with a U.N. investigative team in the region to probe alleged Israeli war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
In an effort to defuse tensions, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday in New York.
The Israeli defense minister expressed doubts whether the U.N. team headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, who arrived in Israel Monday, would maintain an objective outlook. Barak noted the investigation would not address the numerous terror attacks and thousands of rocket attacks launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Barak and Moon reportedly discussed an array of issues, ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Syria's smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Speaking after the meeting, Barak said "the mandate that the Goldstone Committee got is to look into war crimes in regard to the operation in Gaza. ...we know that they will never be able to talk to the other side and penetrate or investigate the series of terrorist operations along years…," Ynetnews reported.
The Maariv daily newspaper quoted Barak saying "the State of Israel does not need an investigating committee, it knows that it has the most moral army in the world."
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fazwzi Barhoum welcomed the U.N. committee's arrival.
Israel concluded its own investigation of Operation Cast Lead weeks ago which found the army's actions were well within the limits of international law in all operational matters including allegations of the use of white phosphorous shells and targeting civilians.