Abbas defends actions around decision to postpone Goldstone vote 18Dec09 December 19, 2009
Ma’an News Agencies -Â 18 December 2009
President Mahmoud Abbas said he was not responsible for the October delay of the Goldstone report, he told an interviewer at Al-Filistine TV on Friday.
Egyptian host Amr Adib spoke with Abbas in Ramallah, and pressed him on the issue of the controversial decision to delay discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN Human Rights Council on 3 October 2009. He showed Abbas a recording of the Ambasador of Pakistan formally requesting a delay on a vote, and asked the president to explain why the PA allowed the motion to go forward.
“I told the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council that if all parties wanted to delay the vote, than he should agree,” Abbas said.
He said the tape clearly showed that it was not the ambassador for the PA who requested the delay.
The day of the delay at the UN HCR, Palestine’s envoy to Geneva Ibrahim Khraisha justified his decision saying the request was intended to “gather consensus – and not under pressure from the United States.”
The US had made it clear it believed a pursuit of the Goldstone report – which said there may have been war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during Israel’s the three-week Operation Cast Lead, which devastated the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis – would harm its efforts to bring sides to the peace talk table.
When Abbas sat with his US counterpart Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of October’s UN meeting in New York, Palestinians saw the move to peace talks without either the guarantee of a construction freeze on West Bank settlements or a path forward on the pursuit of charges against Israeli leaders for deaths in Gaza over the winter, as a betrayal.
Abbas told his interviewer that the vote to support the Goldstone report ultimately went through, and that that was the important thing.
The president also tackled accusations that had been launched at him by Israeli and Palestinian press sources, following the delay of the Goldstone report, and then after it was passed.
Weeks before the ambassador to the PA at the UN okayed the delay of the vote on the Goldstone report, Palestine’s WAFA ran a story saying its leaders had struck a deal with the PA to drop the allegations of war crimes in exchange for the release of wavelengths for the Telecom company Wataniya, waiting to launch its services.
Israel had refused to release airspace officials from Wataniya said had been promised to the company, preventing the multi-million dollar project from opening. Dozens of sales points for the company, and Palestine’s largest public relations campaign had preceded the intended launch date of the company’s services, but the launch was delayed for months as it waited.
Allegations against Abbas were that he, and his sons, made a deal to guarantee the launch of the company.
During the interview Abbas said Richard Falk, the author of the first report, later apologized to Abbas for the accusations.
Abbas received a second apology, he told Al-Filistine, for a story published in Israel’s Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv.
When the UN-HCR finally voted to support the Goldstone report in an emergency session, the paper claimed to have a video of Abbas telling Israeli authorities to strike Gaza.
Abbas said he asked Ma’ariv to produce the tape, and when none was revealed, Israeli government and security officials apologized to the Palestinian president, he said.