Rights council to debate Gaza war 15Oct09 October 16, 2009

Aljazeera -  15 October 2009


The UN Human Rights Council is set to reopen a debate on the Goldstone report on the conduct of the Gaza war late last year.

Thursday’s session comes at the request of the Palestinian Authority, which had initially agreed to defer a vote on the UN-sanctioned Goldstone report but later backtracked after coming under heavy criticism.

The debate in Geneva is to come a day after the UN Security Council also discussed the report, during which the Palestinian Authority demanded that Israel be punished for war crimes.

Riad al-Maliki, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, said at the Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday that the UN should take action against Israel for its “savage attack” on the territory.

“The credibility and foundations of international human rights and humanitarian law as well as of the UN as a whole is at stake,” he said.

“The world has for too long witnessed Israel’s impunity, knowing fully well that this has been repeatedly fuelled by the lack of punishment and accountability.”

In depth

Video: Anger at Abbas
Video: Interview with Richard Goldstone
Timeline: Gaza War
Analysis: War crimes in Gaza?
Goldstone’s full report to the UN rights council
Key points of the Goldstone report
UN inquiry finds Gaza war crimes
‘Half of Gaza war dead civilians’
PLO: History of a Revolution
‘Israel has to be accountable’
Al Jazeera is not responsible for external websites’ content

The UN Security Council’s regular meeting on the Middle East had been brought forward from its original date of October 20 after it reject Libya’s request for a special session to discuss the Gaza war report.The report, which was written by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, accuses Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It also accused Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, of war crime violations, but reserves most of its criticism for Israel.

Palestinians are circulating a draft resolution for the human rights council debate on Thursday, which among other things, calls on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations into the alleged abuses during the war.

Ban urged “all of the parties to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the conflict without delay”, Lynn Pascoe, the UN under secretary general for political affairs, told the security council meeting on Wednesday.

Al-Maliki told Al Jazeera that the Palestinian Authority’s “intention is to shed light on the report and to prepare the stage for what will happen at the UN Human Rights Council”.

“I think it is very important when 44 countries participate in the deliberation, highlighting the importance of the report,” he said.

Report ‘supports terror’

But Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister who oversaw the three week offensive against Gaza, condemned Goldstone’s findings.

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, he said: “The Goldstone report is a lie, distorted, biased and supports terror. Adopting the report might grant support for terror organisations around the world.

“Democratic states need to understand that endorsing it will severely harm their abilities to cope with terror organisations and terror in general.”

And Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, did not refer at all to the Goldstone report during the meeting on Wednesday, but dismissed its findings before the debate even began.

“I regret to say that the Goldstone report is one-sided, biased and therefore wrong – just as the forum and mandate that established its mission,” she said.

‘Not justifiable’

The Goldstone report recommends that its conclusions be sent on to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not hold their own credible investigations within six months.

The report accuses Israel of using disproportionate force during its war against Gaza-based Palestinian fighters.

It also accuses the Israeli military of failing to protect civilians during its series of attacks on Gaza.

Israeli officials have condemned the report, saying their country had a right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks.

But Desmond Travers, a retired army colonel who worked with Goldstone on the report, dismissed that response.

“We examined that very carefully … but we ruled that this was not a justifiable argument,” Travers, currently with the Institute for International Criminal Investigations, told Al Jazeera.

“This report has taken the world community at large one lurch forward into the whole question of impunity,” he said.

“We cannot lurch back, and I think the world at large doesn’t wish to do that.”

About 1,400 Palestinians – the majority of them civilians – and 13 Israelis were killed during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza between last December and January, which had the stated aim of stopping rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters from the coastal territory.

If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address