Israel reportedly links telecommunications frequencies to PA request to ICC on Gaza war

Palestinian journalists have confirmed with sources in Ramallah a report that first appeared in Haaretz today, which said that Israeli officials are linking the release of telecommunications frequencies for a new Palestinian mobile phone operator to the withdrawal of the Palestinian Authority’s request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate information published in the 15 September Goldstone report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council will discuss the Goldstone report in Geneva on Tuesday.

According to the Haaretz report, Israeli officials are furious at the Palestinian Authority (PA), and have accused it of being unfair, for asking the International Criminal Court to investigate information published in the Goldstone report.

Earlier this year, after the IDF’s three-week military offensive in Gaza, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki went personally to the Hague to make a request to the ICC to investigate what happened in Gaza.

However, the Goldstone report does, apparently, mention some PA approval for the IDF action against Hamas (not yet covered here due to computer problems, and lack of internet access), which was mentioned recently by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also accused the PA of being unfair.

[The Goldstone report itself says, in its paragraphs 1753 through 1755 says: “The Mission also concludes that the Palestinian Authority’s actions against political opponents in the West Bank, which started in January 2006 and continued with increased intensity during the period between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, constitute violations of human rights and of the Palestinian’s own Basic Law. Detentions on political grounds violate the rights to liberty and security of person, to a fair trial and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of one’s political opinion, which are all part of customary international law. Reports of torture and other forms of ill treatment during arrest and detention and of death in detention, require prompt investigation and accountability. The Mission was struck by the repeated comment of Palestinian victims, human rights defenders, civil society interlocutors and officials that they hoped that this would be the last investigative mission of its kind, because action for justice would follow from it. It was struck, as well, by the comment that every time a report is published and no action follows, this ’emboldens Israel and her conviction of being untouchable’. To deny modes of accountability reinforces impunity and impacts negatively on the credibility of the United Nations, and of the international community. The Mission believes these comments ought to be at the forefront in the consideration by Members States and United Nations bodies of its findings and recommendations and action consequent upon them. The Mission is firmly convinced that justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation of impunity has created a justice crisis in the OPT (occupied Palestinian territory) that warrants action.]

The Haaretz report published today said that: “In Israel the argument is that the PA is being unfair, and that at the time of the operation in the Gaza Strip, last winter, its senior officials encouraged their Israeli counterparts to step up the pressure on Hamas, and even to attempt to bring its rule in the territory to the point of collapse. However, at a latter stage they joined those decrying Israel and its alleged actions in the Strip. In light of this tension, the chief of staff conditioned his approval of a second cellular provider to the Palestinians’ withdrawing their appeal to the court. ‘The PA has reached the point where it has to decide whether it is working with us or against us’, senior figures in the defense establishment have said. At the PA it is being said, in response to the Israeli demands, that Abbas and Fayyad will water down their appeal to the ICJ, though they will refuse to promise that it will rescinded entirely”.    This Haaretz article can be read in full here.

The Haaretz story also quotes the head of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF). who is also the economic advisor to the Palestinian president, as corroborating — in a way — this report, by saying: “‘Israel is making it difficult for us on many levels’, complains Mohammed Mustafa, economic adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. ‘They now want us to pressure PalTel to release some of its frequencies, so that they can be used by Watania’.

Haaretz adds that “The frequencies that the Palestinians want the new company to use are very close to ones used by the Israel Defense Forces in some of its most sensitive activities”.

Haaretz also reported, in the same story, that “During the past year Israel defense officials have often praised the Palestinians on improving their contribution to securing the West Bank, and of the decisive character of the leadership under Fayyad. However, in recent weeks there have been increasing claims that even as the Authority is being praised by Israel and the international community, it is behaving irresponsibly by violating agreements between the two sides. The Israeli claims focus on the growing presence of Palestinian security personnel in civilian clothing in East Jerusalem, contrary to the obligations of the PA. The security personnel participate in prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque, and at other sites in the city, and have stepped up their presence in the Jerusalem’s medical and educational facilities. Moreover, they have also been involved in the abduction of Palestinians suspected of selling property to Jews”.

However, some of these accusations are not new — and in fact may be outdated. At least some of the security personnel at Al-Aqsa mosque are residents of East Jerusalem who are employed directly by the Waqf foundation, and not by the Palestinian Authority — and of course they participate in prayers there. There were previously some PA security personnel who did operate in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem — in fact, they lived in those neighborhoods. This is not against any law on any of the books here. In addition, there have been no abductions, in recent years, of Palestinians suspected of selling property to Jews.

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