By Stephen Lendman
On September 15, 2009, the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) Goldstone Commission issued its findings on Cast Lead, Israel’s war of aggression against Gaza, inflicting enormous loss of life, thousands of injuries, massive human suffering, and vast destruction, despite no provocation or threat to Israeli security.
The Commission concluded that "there is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity."
Notably the Commission said:
"While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right of self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole." Defensive rocket attacks in response to repeated Israeli provocations were, in fact, a pretext for naked aggression.
On September 27, 2009, Haaretz writer Nathan Guttman headlined, "Israel, US working to limit damage of Goldstone report," saying:
"Because of joint efforts, it’s all but certain the report will not reach any binding international forums." With US help, Israel was obstructionist all along, refusing to cooperate in the investigation, including by preventing Goldstone from entering Israel. Its "drive to counter the report began moments" after its release, blasting it as biased and pressing Washington to block Security Council action.
The last refuge of an exposed scoundrel is lying, an Israeli speciality. In this case. Jonathan Peled, spokesman of Israel’s Washington Embassy, said report conclusions carry a hidden danger for "every country fighting terror. We need to make sure this report does not endanger the US and other countries."
More as well from Israel’s Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, denouncing Goldstone (a distinguished Jewish jurist) as anti-Semitic, despite his longtime support of Israel. He also serves on the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s board of governors.
The US State Department also responded, spokesman Ian Kelly citing "overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel," while failing to challenge its findings.
Shortly before the HRC voted to endorse Goldstone’s report, the PA bowed to US and Israeli pressure to defer voting until March 2010. At the time, calls for Abbas’ resignation were heard, to no avail.
Netanyahu said referring the report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) would stop the peace process, another willful deception. Moreover, Washington told Jewish leaders that America would use its Security Council veto to block the report’s "difficulties," assuring absolution for Israel’s war crimes like previous ones for decades.
On October 19, 2009, the 47-member HRC approved a resolution endorsing Israeli war crimes charges, voting 25 in favor, six against, 11 abstentions, and five no-shows. Predictably, no votes were cast by America, four EU member states (Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary and Slovakia), and Ukraine. Heavy Washington pressure got support from countries dependent on US political, economic or military aid to buy Israel as much cover as possible.
Accountability Again Obstructed
On September 21, 2010 in Geneva, an HRC statement said:
"It was clear to the Committee that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets. Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm. Israel’s actions could not be justified as self-defense….The IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians (as well as) wonton(ly) destr(oying) property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity."
The HRC called IDF crimes so grave, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed." Its conclusion was that Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead."
On September 29, 2010, in spite of overwhelming, incontrovertible evidence, Mahmoud Abbas again bowed to US/Israeli pressure, instructing his permanent Geneva Human Rights Council envoy, Ibrahim Khraishi, to request more time for further investigations. As a result, a passed resolution got six more months, the strategy being delay, obstruct, and keep the report buried in Geneva, out of sight and mind.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounced Khraishi, saying he’s:
"holding justice hostage to politics, and extending de facto impunity to the Israeli military and political leadership." By getting the HRC to agree to more delay, he sent "a dangerous message" that what happened in Gaza….is acceptable. With such impunity, there is no guarantee for Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated."
In fact, they’re assured by granting blanket immunity for daily crimes of war and against humanity throughout Palestine. With no accountability, they’ve continued unchecked.
It asked who do they serve anyway, absolving crimes against Palestinian civilians, causing massive human suffering and vast destruction, leveling wide areas of Gaza unrelated to military necessity.
Mahmoud Abbas capitulated, betraying his people again. It’s the same role he’s played at least since Oslo when as chief Palestinian negotiator he agreed to surrender Palestinian land, their legitimate rights, and end opposition resistance. Then as president, became a coup d’etat leader, collaborating for aid and special favors.
His earlier betrayal got PA economy minister, Bassem Khoury, to resign in protest. PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, Hatem Abdel-Qader, also left, saying his government failed to resist home demolitions, explaining:
"I prefer not to be part of such a government and continue enjoying personal and financial gains, and quit instead."
Moreover, 16 human rights organizations condemned the PA’s latest action, a joint statement demanding accountability after decades of impunity, one passage saying:
"The belief that accountability and the rule of law can be brushed aside in the pursuit of peace is misguided. (Sustainable) peace can only be built on human rights, on justice, and the rule of law….As human rights organizations, we strongly condemn the Palestinian leadership’s decision to defer the proposal of the international community. Such pressure is in conflict with States international obligations, and is an insult to the Palestinian people."
Signatories included the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Physicians for Human Rights/Israel, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Addamer, Defense for Children International/Palestine Section, Adalah, Al Haq, Arab Association for Human Rights, among others.
A Final Comment
Goldstone’s report isn’t dead, but it’s on life support. Nonetheless, HRC’s Committee of Experts remains active, headed by John Dugard, former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine. However, whether or not it will matter is worrisome, given forces for delay, obstruct and whitewash in control. Wresting it from them may prove insurmountable, but serious efforts must be made to try. Otherwise, predictable consequences will follow, assuring violence, unaccountability and injustice.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his blog at: sjlendman.blogspot.com.