Zionist-run PA (along with Arab League and OIC) keeps UN Goldstone Report, flotilla probe in bureaucratic limbo

‘Burying the details’

Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt); September 30, 2010

The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and dozens of NGOs have debated the “human rights situation” in the occupied territories and Israel for two days. The meeting was also meant to hear out a committee of experts appointed by the council to follow up on UN action in light of the Goldstone report on Israel’s 22-day war on Gaza in December 2008.

Although the war claimed 1,400 Palestinian lives and maimed 5,000, with much graphic detail of the Israel assault captured on film, the UN has yet to decide — two years after it ended — how it will address what its own investigators have described as war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel.

The UNHRC, however, ended up being distracted by another Israeli violation of international law, probed by yet another committee of UN-appointed investigators: Israel’s assault on the Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara. When it was attacked in international waters on 31 May the Marmara was part of a flotilla of ships attempting to break Israel‘s siege of Gaza.

Manned by international activists and peace advocates from 70 countries, the Turkish registered Mavi Marmara was the flotilla’s biggest ship. During the attack, Israeli special forces killed nine unarmed civilians at point blank range, including an 18-year-old Turkish-US citizen.

The UNHRC fact-finding mission charged with investigating the attack published its report on 22 September. It found that Israel seriously violated both humanitarian and human rights law “during and after” the raid.

No arms or weapons of an offensive nature were found on board any of the vessels of the flotilla, said the report. Yet Israeli soldiers used live ammunition against the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, killing nine and injuring over 50: “Six of the deceased were the victims of summary executions, two of whom were shot after they were severely injured,” said the report.

Despite Israeli and US pressure, the UNHRC is expected to endorse a draft resolution by Turkey to adopt the committee’s findings and refer them to the UN General Assembly. The vote, which is due either today or tomorrow, is expected to pass thanks largely to the support of Arab, Islamic, Asian and some African states sympathetic with the Palestinian cause.

But this will probably be the end of the flotilla story as far as the UN is concerned. And while some media attention is currently being accorded the flotilla discussions going on in the UNHRC, the fate of the even more damning Goldstone Report is being all but ignored.

Named after the head of the mission, the 575-page long Goldstone Report submitted to the UN in September 2009 recommended that both Israeli and Palestinian authorities undertake investigations into accusations of humanitarian violations and follow up with action within six months.

If the parties failed to meet international standards of objectivity in their efforts, said the report, then the UN Security Council (UNSC) should consider referring the whole matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Faced with the report’s damning evidence — the bulk of it against Israel — and bold recommendations, the UN General Assembly shirked the opportunity to take any meaningful action in its emergency session on 5 November 2009. Instead, and after many deferrals, it appointed a committee of experts last June to decide whether Israel and the Palestinians had conducted domestic investigations that met with international standards.

The committee submitted its report to the UNHRC on Monday. Because Israel had refused to cooperate with its experts, it said, it was not in a position to make any decision on the matter.

While such an outcome might reasonably be expected to have provoked protests from the Arab-Islamic bloc in the UNHRC, particularly the Palestinian Authority (PA), this does not appear to be the case.

According to Jeremy Smith, director of the Geneva branch of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHR) which has been lobbying with other NGOs in favor of the Goldstone recommendations to take Israel to the ICC, the PA is instead seeking to extend the mandate of the expert committee for another year.

“The problem here is that the PA’s draft resolution is extremely weak and would seem to be burying the findings of the Goldstone Report,” Smith told Al-Ahram Weekly in a telephone interview from Geneva on Tuesday.

CIHR’s director in Cairo, Bahieddin Hassan, put it as follows: “The difference between the PA and both Israel and the US is that the latter want to bury the Goldstone Report immediately, while the PA wants to do it slowly. This is what’s happening at the UNHRC at the moment.”

One irony of the situation, says Smith, is that the Goldstone Report is being overshadowed by discussions on the findings of the flotilla fact-finding mission. On the other hand, the status of the Goldstone Report has become so complicated “nobody knows where the process is going anymore.”

“Everyone is confused. It keeps getting deferred. This was the strongest movement we had to uphold justice for the Palestinians in 50 years and it is being buried by bureaucracy. Where is the Goldstone Report now? Why is it being buried?” he asks.

Legal experts say the PA could have drafted a strong resolution demanding action which the UNHRC would almost certainly have passed given its Arab-Islamic majority. This would have then empowered the UNHRC to refer the resolution to the UN General Assembly which could opt, if it so wishes, to pass the resolution on to the Security Council.

And while the Security Council would never adopt a resolution that would see Israel before the ICC, such a scenario would have had inestimable value in drawing international attention to daily Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights. But neither the PA, nor the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), all of them members of the UNHRC, drafted such a resolution.

“The apparent lack of political will among the PA, the Arab League and OIC should be questioned and analyzed. It’s very important to shed light on this area,” says Smith. He believes their strategy is “to complicate the process in layers of bureaucracy until it is forgotten or just too confusing to follow.”

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights and four Palestinian NGOs issued a joint press statement on Tuesday condemning the failure of “all responsible parties” — a reference to the PA, the Arab League and the OIC — to comply with their obligation to carry out genuine investigations.

The above article can be found here: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1017/re2.htm


‘Leaked documents show PA undermined Turkey’s push for UN flotilla probe’

The Electronic Intifada; June 22, 2010

The Palestinian Authority attempted to neutralize a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, leaked UN and Palestinian Authority documents obtained by The Electronic Intifada show. Israel’s 31 May attack killed nine Turkish citizens, including a dual US-Turkish citizen, and injured dozens of others aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters.

The Electronic Intifada (EI) today publishes one of the documents it obtained, containing proposed amendments to a draft Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution. Annotations to the resolution indicate the Palestinian Authority (PA) stood with European Union (EU) countries against Turkey’s calls for robust action to hold Israel accountable.

The PA’s apparent collusion to shield Israel will recall for many its efforts to undermine UN action on the Goldstone report last October.

Apparently written by a European delegate, the document’s amendments would have seriously diluted Turkey’s original wording. The most damaging change would have removed the call for an independent UN investigation under HRC auspices. The document was provided to EI by a source who described how it was obtained inside the UN Office at Geneva, and asked to remain anonymous.

Turkey rejected the EU-PA amendments, and the final resolution on 2 June declared that the council “Decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law resulting from the Israeli attacks” (“The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy,” United Nations Human Rights Council, Fourteenth session, A/HRC/14/L.1, Adopted on 2 June 2010).

The language in the final resolution was very similar to the January 2009 HRC resolution which led to the Goldstone report, the independent investigation that detailed war crimes committed during Israel‘s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza.

Yet annotations apparently made by a European diplomat on the draft resolution obtained by EI make it clear that the PA consented to removal of this wording. A PA-backed alternative paragraph instead proposed that the HRC: “Requests the UN Secretary-General to ensure a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to the [sic] international standards.”

This difference is key because the Turkish wording specifically calls for an investigation under the authority of the HRC. Yet the weaker EU-PA version would have allowed the UN secretary-general to merely endorse an Israeli-led inquiry provided he considered it “credible.”

One of the document’s annotations explains that “TK [Turkey] has checked with their capital and they are still under high-level instruction to insist on language as originally proposed.” The note adds that “PA and PAK [Pakistan] can agree to both proposals” — i.e to replace the independent HRC investigation with one merely approved by either the UN Security Council or the secretary-general.

Similarly, while Turkey had — according to the annotations — insisted that the resolution specifically condemn the Israeli attack, the “PA and PAK is [sic] OK with the EU proposal” to replace reference to “the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla” with the more ambiguous “use of violence during the Israeli military operation.” The EU alternative could be interpreted as including condemnation of “violence” by passengers attempting to defend themselves with water hoses or sticks against the unprovoked Israeli military attack in international waters.

Public statements by both French and UK diplomats support EI’s interpretation of the document. After Turkey succeeded in getting its wording into the 2 June resolution, the UK and France abstained, and the Netherlands, Italy and the US voted against.

Explaining his country’s abstention, French representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei expressed a wish for a “unanimous stand” and said his government “regret that proposals for amendments to the text made by the EU” were not accepted. Peter Gooderham for the United Kingdom concurred with this wish “to reach consensus” and even mentioned he was “grateful for the efforts of the co-sponsors in this regard” (“UN Human Rights Council, Archived Video“, Fourteenth session, 2 June 2010).

The Palestinian Authority was one of the resolution’s co-sponsors.

Imad Zuhairi, the Deputy Permanent Observer of the PA to the UN in Geneva, said in a phone interview that the position of his delegation was that “no matter if it’s Geneva, the Human Rights Council, or the Security Council, there should be a transparent and international independent investigation committee in accordance with international standards.”

Zuhairi claimed his delegation had been “not against or with” the EU effort to scupper the HRC investigation. He criticized the Security Council resolution wording as “ambiguous” and said the PA would “reject by all means any internal investigation” by Israel. He added: “What we care for is our [Palestinian] people in the occupied Gaza Strip.”

When questioned specifically on the comment in the document that the PA can “agree” to removal of the HRC investigation, Zuhairi said the comment was inaccurate, and said that whoever had written it was mistaken.

However, the annotations in the draft HRC resolution leaked to EI are corroborated by a second leaked document which reveals an earlier attempt to dilute the HRC resolution, but this time directly by the PA itself.

The second document, and the email to which it was attached, were leaked by a source unconnected to the first document. EI was given access to the second document on condition it not be published.

The second document is in the widely-used Microsoft Word format and the “Track Changes” feature has been used, so the exact changes made to it are unambiguous. An examination of the Word document’s metadata reveals that it was initially created by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“Disisleri Bakanligi”) before the PA added its changes.

The email to which it was attached was written by Feda Abdelhady Nasser, a diplomat at the PA’s UN mission in New York, and sent to Dr. Ibrahim Khraishi, the PA representative at the UN in Geneva where the HRC is based. It is copied to Riyad Mansour, the head of the PA mission at the UN in New York.

Abdelhady Nasser explains that the attached document contains the PA mission in New York’s edits to the draft resolution being proposed for adoption by the HRC.

The document itself proves that the PA representatives replaced the proposed Turkish wording in which the HRC “Decides to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission …” with much vaguer and more indirect language that: “Calls upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to dispatch a fact finding mission …”

This language would have removed the entire issue from the auspices of the HRC. Taken together, the evidence indicates that the PA was directly involved in trying to dilute and undermine Turkey’s robust position and to protect Israel from accountability.

Recent reports suggest that the “investigation conforming to international standards” approved by the Security Council and the US administration will be conducted by Israel itself, observed by Northern Ireland politician David Trimble who recently co-founded an organization called Friends of Israel, and Canadian Brigadier-General Ken Watkin.

A separate investigation by the HRC, as stipulated in the 2 June resolution that passed with 32 votes in favor (three against, nine abstentions) would represent a challenge to the authority of the Israeli investigation. If the Goldstone report is a precedent, an HRC investigation is far more likely to be critical of Israeli actions.

In October 2009, the Goldstone report was finally adopted by the HRC. Despite the PA initially withdrawing support for the South African jurist’s investigation into Israel’s 2008-09 onslaught against the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Abbas, who extended his expired term as PA president under contested “emergency laws,” was forced into a humiliating U-turn after an outpouring of disgust and protest from Palestinians around the world.

The above article can be found here: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11350.shtml

Also see ‘Israeli stooge Abbas gives away the farm’ here: http://800pg.co.cc/geeklog//article.php?story=20081013083137646


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