Abbas offers new explanation of Goldstone report fiasco

Maan News Agency reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of Fatah Revolutionary Council at the Presidential headquarters compound, the Muqata’a, in Ramallah, that “To keep you updated, when the Goldstone report was released, we agreed on it and welcomed it. Arab countries proposed a high-level project to 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 project which holds us responsible for the war on Gaza. Neither project was passed. It was necessary to find a compromise. We found that it would be better to defer discussion of the report. Well, we are not a full member of the Human Rights Council, and we can’t submit, or withdraw, or delay a proposal. Everybody was silenced. Then some began accusing us of erring. Who read the report anyway? Those who were in Geneva did not 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. 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. The least I can describe this is shame. Is the mission an opportunity to attack us? For what? I accepted the commission, and I am the one in charge. Nobody operated without my approval. It was I who made evaluations. I gave directives to [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 is treason they accuse us of?” This report is posted here.

This is almost incomprehensible — it’s hard to tell if there are errors in translation, a problem with editing, or something else Palestinians did not read the report because it was not translated? Deferring discussion of the report was a compromise?

Abbas was speaking a a three-day meeting of the new Fatah Revolutionary Council that was elected at the movement’s 6th general conference in Bethlehem last August.

In the absence of news to the contrary, it must be assumed that the Palestinian Investigative Committee that Abbas formed to look into what happened concerning the Goldstone report fiasco is still doing its work.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Media Communications Center (JMCC) — which was founded years ago by Ghassan Khatib, who has recently become the “Government Media Advisor” (meaning, apparently to Salam Fayyad) — has just released the results of a public opinion poll it conducted, concerning “the ramifications of the Goldstone Report and other political topics”.

According to a summary of the results of this poll, which the JMCC sent out by email, “the conditions behind the vote deferral on the Goldstone Report had a clear impact on the popularity of Palestinian President Abbas and US President Obama. Ratio of Palestinians showing confidence in President Abbas decreased to 12.1% in this poll compared with a ratio of 17.8% last June and 15.5% last October. In the same context, the ratio of those who expressed satisfaction with the way President Abbas runs the Palestinian Authority went down from 48.5% last October to 39.4% in this poll. As for the level of confidence in the Prime Minister of the deposed government Ismail Haniyeh, the ratio remained unchanged at 14.2%“. Meanwhile, “the level of confidence in PM Salam Fayyad increased to 4.5% compared with 2.1% last October”.

The JMCC reported that “When asked whom would they elect as President of the PNA if elections take place in 2010, the poll showed that … 16.8% said they would vote again for President Abbas and a similar ratio said they would vote for Marwan al-Barghouthi while a ratio of 16% said they would vote for Ismail Haniyeh”. This is almost a three-way tie

The JMCC report added that “It seems that the approach of Fatah Leadership to distance itself from the PNA with regards to the Goldstone Report helped Fatah in keeping its popularity ahead and more than Hamas’ popularity among the Palestinian public. The current poll shows that a ratio of 34.6% still trusts Fatah Movement compared with a ratio of 17.9% who said they trust Hamas, followed by PFLP which received a ratio of 3.7% while Islamic Jihad Movement received 2.3%”. When asked about the faction that they will vote for in case general elections take place in 2010, a ratio of 40% of the respondents said they will vote for Fatah Movement compared with 18.7% who said they will vote for Hamas. The poll results showed a notable increase in the ratio of respondents who said that security and safety have improved during the era of PM Salam Fayyad: a ratio of 42.7% said the security conditions improved compared with 37.7% who said that security has improved in October 2008. Ratio of respondents who said that security conditions during the era of Fayyad deteriorated went down [sic] from 26.8% last October to 20.2% in this poll. On the other hand, the ratio of respondents who said that security and safety improved during the era of Hanieh’s deposed government in Gaza have improved remained unchanged around 32.8% while the ratio of those who said security conditions have deteriorated increased from 24.4% last October to 29.7% in this poll”.

The U.S. does not escape scrutiny in this poll: “the ratio of respondents who said that there is improvement in the US’ dealing with the Middle East problems went down from 40.6% last June to 25% in this poll. In the same manner, the ratio of those noting deterioration in the US Administration performance on the Middle East issues rose from 6.6% last June to 12.8% in this poll. Moreover, the ratio of Palestinians who believe that the US policy in the region would raise chances of achieving a just peace went down from 35.4% last June to 23.7% in this poll”.

The JMCC reported that “A random sample of 1200 people over the age of 18 was interviewed face-to-face throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 7-11 October 2009. (760 people were from the West Bank, and 440 were in Gaza.)”

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