BREAKING NEWS: Abbas admits ordering Goldstone report delay October 19, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  18 October 2009


President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday defended his decision to postpone debate on South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s fact-finding mission on Gaza at the UN Human Rights Council last month.

“I accepted the commission, and I am the one in charge,” he said, speaking at a meeting of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council in Ramallah. “Nobody operated without my approval.”

He explained, “I gave directives to [PLO Ambassador] Ibrahim Khreisha to find a way to re-submit the Goldstone report, and a week later he did. The report was discussed, and was approved. Where’s the treason they accuse us of?”

The president insisted the Palestinian Authority supported the report, but deferred it for practical reasons.

“When the Goldstone report was released, we agreed on it and welcomed it,” he said. “Arab countries proposed a high-level resolution be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council that protects our rights, and it was opposed by Europe, the US, China, and Russia. Then, the US suggested a very low-level resolution which holds us responsible for the war on Gaza. Neither resolution was passed.”

Thus, Abbas said, “It was necessary to find a compromise. We found that it would be better to defer discussion of the report.”

But he also said that it was not technically the PA that delayed the resolution, since the government is not a full member of the council, “and we can’t submit, or withdraw, or delay a proposal. Everybody was silenced.”

In any case, the president said his rivals were using the issue to score political points.

“Then some began accusing us of erring,” he said. “Who read the report, anyway? Those who were in Geneva didn’t read the report, because it needed to be translated. Let’s assume we saw the report. Where did we err? Why do we say that? Everybody says we erred.”

“Unfortunately, the fuss about the report started here in Palestine,” he noted, referring to widespread anger at the PA and PLO for what some, including high-ranking Hamas members, termed treasonous. “They said, this is your opportunity to attack them fiercely.”

“I have all the names who contacted the fact-finding mission to talk to them,” Abbas claimed. “The least I can describe this as is shame. Is the mission an opportunity to attack us? For what?”

With regard to the new Palestinian mobile provider Wataniya, Abbas said the company was licensed by the Ministry of Communications during the deposed government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s tenure, and that the PA had no stake in the company.

Those comments seemed in response to allegations that the PA obstructed the mission in exchange for financial favors from Israel, which has refused to hand over frequencies needed to run the mobile service until the Palestinians abide by unspecified demands.

Abbas also announced that he intended to decree legislative and presidential elections be held on 25 January 2010. “I am very serious. Underline this phrase, and I will have another talk after this date.”

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