Friday, October 16, 2009

UN likely to endorse Goldstone Gaza report, despite Israeli efforts.

Both the US and Israel have been piling the pressure on Gordon Brown in the hope of getting him to vote against the Goldstone Report on Gaza when it comes in front of the United Nations Human Rights Council. But all indications are that their efforts have been unsuccessful and that the report will be endorsed.

Another conversation the prime minister [Netanyahu] had, this time with his British counterpart Gordon Brown, was said by a diplomat to have lasted 30 minutes. According to sources, the exchange was uneasy and full of disagreements. Netanyahu tried to convince Brown that the U.K. change its position from abstaining to opposing its adoption by the Human Rights Council.

Netanyahu also protested the fact that the U.K. supported taking the Goldstone Report seriously, and that Britain intends to abstain at the vote.
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton several times, asking her to act quickly in order to convince more countries to vote against the report's adoption.

Clinton also focused her efforts on Britain, whose stance will affect that of other European Union countries.
Clinton asked British Foreign Minister David Miliband to alter his stance and vote against the adoption of the report. However, like Netanyahu, Clinton also failed to convince the British foreign minister. Miliband explained that unless the report passes, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will suffer a serious political blow.
I know that the US always feel the need to defend every Israeli action but this report simply couldn't be clearer about what the US are now asking the Brits to defend.
Indiscriminate use of firepower; deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian structures, including hospitals, schools, mosques, water and sewage plants, and rescue vehicles; use of white phosphorus munitions in built-up areas; use of human shields; abusive treatment of detainees; imposition of a blockade on Gaza before and after the attack itself--the report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian law, committed "grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons," and war crimes, possibly even crimes against humanity.
The deliberate targeting of civilians is something that no-one should seek to defend.

Nor should we forget the kind of actions which Israel engaged in. In this Channel 4 video we see how the town of Juhar ad Dik was, literally, destroyed. The damage has to be seen to be believed. As Jonathan Miller states, it is "breathtaking, a village wiped off the map".



And Netanyahu is becoming ever more dishonest as he seeks to make this whole thing go away.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu spoke with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for 15 minutes, seeking to convince him to support Israel's position in the matter. The prime minister noted that the report was an obstacle to the peace process and described it as "ridiculous" and as "having contributed to the Palestinians' hardening of their stance and refusing negotiations."
It is not the Palestinians who have hardened their stance and refused negotiations, that has been the Israeli position under Netanyahu, where he has refused Obama's request that Israel comply with international law and cease illegal settlement building so that negotiations can proceed.

I know that Obama would rather this report is not endorsed, as this will give Netanyahu more excuses to avoid talking to his Palestinian counterpart. But the truth is, as Miliband states, that unless Abbas pushes forward with this his position would become untenable, as the Palestinians - the very people who suffered under this brutal Israeli assault - would want his head if he backed down here. It is for that reason alone that Abbas has reversed his previous position.

I understand Obama's desire to keep taking the long view in the hope of establishing a meaningful peace deal between the two sides, but it's also perfectly understandable that the people against whom these atrocities were perpetrated are keen to ensure that this can never be done to them again without someone, somewhere, bearing the responsibility.

Some brave Israeli soldiers have described what actually took place during the attack on Gaza:
"Fire power was insane"; "if you see any signs of movement at all, you shoot. These, essentially, were the rules of engagement. Shoot if you like"; "Houses were demolished everywhere.… We didn't see a single house that was not hit"; "whole neighborhoods were simply razed because four houses in the area served to launch Qassam rockets"; "You know what? You feel like a child playing around with a magnifying glass, burning up ants. Really. A 20-year-old kid should not be doing such things to people."
These are clearly war crimes. The US will do itself no favours, especially at a time when Obama wants to repair relations with the Muslim world, if it tries to shield Israel from her culpability for such atrocities.

UPDATE:

The UN Human Rights Council has endorsed the report after all:

The UN Human Rights Council has backed a report into the Israeli offensive in Gaza that accuses both Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes.

The report by Richard Goldstone calls for credible investigations by Israel and Hamas, and suggests international war crimes prosecutions if they do not.

Twenty-five countries voted for the resolution, while six were against.

[...]

The report demanded that unless the parties to the Gaza war investigated the allegations of war crimes within six months, the cases should be referred to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Click here for full article.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

• It must have been an unenviable challenge for the Israel Foreign Ministry to endeavor to try to discredit the report of the eminent South African Jurist, Judge Goldstone, who has an impeccable record in the field of human and civil rights, both at home and abroad. The first insuperable problem was that he is not only a recognized authority on international human rights legislation and convention, but he is Jewish! So the standard allegation of anti-Semitism, was impossible. They could not attack his professional record, which was impeccable. So what action could be taken in damage limitation?
• The matter has suddenly become urgent. If the world fully accepts the report, then Israel is branded a human rights violator and a perpetrator of war crime. The international community has been shocked at the allegations of gratuitous killing of hundreds of innocent children and over a hundred women in three weeks of unchecked violence, together with the destruction of Gaza's infrastructure including 'houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings'.
• The Report alleges 'an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.' That, the Report states, 'could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been commited.'
• The Israeli Government is in deep trouble as the allegations become more widely known, because there are few who now believe its denials and fewer still, its continuing propaganda. And there is a palpable sense of shock as the evidence unfolds as to what transpired in those three weeks of state-sponsored killing and destruction, under the pretext of self-defense.

colindale, london

edwin sanchez said...

It is not Israel has done nothing to bring peace. They have had peace with Egypt and Jordan for years now.

Kel said...

Edwin,

As I said on the other threat where you made this same point, Israel have never claimed that Egypt and Jordan should be part of Israel. But there are many people, and Netanyahu is one of them, who have argued that Judea and Samaria are actually part of Israel.

James Nelson said...

"Annonymus" says that Goldstone's being Jewish offers him some sort of protecton against the accusation of being an "anti-Semite" and that accusation is indeed normally reserved for any gentile who has the "chutzpah" to criticise the zionist state; "self-hating Jew" is is the term usually applied to Jews who adopt any sort of critical position.
However, in Goldstone's case we had a novel departure from zionist protocol with the Israeli Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, saying that Richard Goldstone, the head of the UN commission that accused Israel of war crimes during last winter's Gaza operation, is a Jewish "anti-Semite." see http://thediplomatabroad.blogspot.com/2009/10/self-hating-jews-and-anti-semites.html

Kel said...

James,

It's shocking how quickly the Israelis throw around these heinous charges to any Jew who dares to be critical of the state.

And I enjoyed the article you linked to. There is a certain irony to Israel turning on Goldstone, who "believes bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust."

Maybe Bibi would argue it's not a war crime when they do it because they are fighting terrorists. Oh, wait... That actually is what he says.