The AP’s indefatigable Edith Lederer has reported that “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he will send a report calling for Israel and the Palestinians to investigate alleged war crimes during last winter’s conflict in Gaza to the UN Security Council ‘as soon as possible’.”
She added that “The 15 council members have already received copies of the 575-page report by an expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. But the General Assembly in a resolution adopted Thursday asks the secretary-general to transmit it, which will make the report an official Security Council document … The Security Council, however, is highly unlikely to take any action. The United States has repeatedly said the report belongs in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which appointed the Goldstone panel. Diplomats said Russia and China also don’t want the Security Council dealing with human rights issues. All three countries have veto power in the Security Council. [n.b. France, which also has the veto power, has also indicated that it would oppose any UNSC action on the Goldstone report…] The International Criminal Court can only investigate crimes on the territory of nations that recognize its jurisdiction, unless a case is referred to it by the Security Council. The Palestinian Authority recognized the court in January and urged prosecutors to launch an investigation into crimes committed during the Gaza conflict, but prosecutors are investigating whether this is possible since there is no state of Palestine”. This AP report was picked up and published by The Independent, here.
Amnesty International issued a statement after the vote in the UN General Assembly saying that the body’s adoption of “key recommendations of the Goldstone report on the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel earlier this year is vitally important for ensuring that those, on both sides, who committed war crimes and other violations of international law will now be held to account … Almost one year on, those who suffered war crimes and other gross violations of their rights, are still waiting for justice … [And] “It is our fervent hope that today’s UN General Assembly resolution will act as a catalyst to make justice and reparation a reality for the victims on both sides”.
In the statement, Yvonne Terlingen, Head of Amnesty International’s Office at the UN, said: “We deeply regret that the USA and the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia voted against the resolution and failed to support the need for accountability, justice and human rights that are so vital for victims of abuses in this conflict … We urge the UN Secretary-General to now appoint independent experts in human rights and international humanitarian law to assess whether any investigations that are conducted by Israel and Hamas meet the required international standard”.
[UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post, in an article published after this posting, wrote that “44 abstained, including most of the EU countries that had sought unsuccessfully to soften the resolution’s language prior to the vote. Switzerland was the only European country to endorse the report. Russia, which does not often side with Israel in these matters, abstained … Following the Goldstone vote, which US Ambassador Susan Rice did not attend, the US mission circulated an ‘explanation of vote’ by Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff, who voted in Rice’s place. ‘As the United States made clear in Geneva, we believe that the Goldstone Report is deeply flawed’, Wolff said, citing an unbalanced focus on Israel, sweeping legal conclusions and overreaching recommendations, and a failure to adequately assign responsibility to Hamas for basing its operations in civilian-populated areas. He stressed that the matter should be handled at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva alone, saying discussion in the Security Council would be ‘unconstructive’. Stating that the US ‘strongly supports accountability’ for human rights and humanitarian law violations, Wolff said the best way to end human suffering is to bring comprehensive peace to the region, including a two-state solution. ‘As we urge the parties to restart permanent-status negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, we should all be seeking to advance the cause of peace – and doing nothing to hinder it’, he said“. This JPOST article is published here.]
The Amnesty International statement noted that UNSG BAN has been asked to submit what it called a “progress report” to the UN General Assembly in three months’ time.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva still has on its books the first resolution it adopted on the Goldstone report, in early October, calling for review of the situation in March 2010.
Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a measure by an overwhelming vote (344-to-36) calling the Goldstone report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy”, and calling on the Obama Administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of it at the UN.
A post by Matthew Rothschild on The Progressive website said that “Dennis Kucinich had it right when he denounced the House majority for going along with this. His statement is so powerful that I’m excerpting it at length here: ‘Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt … Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist. Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian. The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right: resolution.’ . . . How can we ever expect there to be peace in the Middle East if we tacitly approve of violations of international law and international human rights, if we look the other way, or if we close our eyes to the heartbreak of people on both sides by white-washing a legitimate investigation? How can we protect the people of Israel from existential threats if we hold no concern for the protection of the Palestinians, for their physical security, their right to land, their right to their own homes, their right to water, their right to sustenance, their right to freedom of movement, their right to human security of jobs, education and health care? … all people on this planet have a right to survive and thrive, and it is our responsibility, our duty to see that no individual, no group, no people are barred from this humble human claim”. This posting can be read in full here.
Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic Congressman from Ohio who was re-elected a year ago to a seventh term in the U.S, House of Representatives. The full text of his statement on this House resolution, Entiltled “Truth, Human Dignity, and the Goldstone Report”, can be seen on his website, here
On the third day of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Kucinich was sending a letter to UNSG BAN Ki-Moon “urging the United Nations to establish an independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza. The attacks on civilians represent collective punishment, which is a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/92.htm). The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better. The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation … Israel is leveling Gaza to strike at Hamas, just as they pulverized south Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. Yet in both cases civilian populations were attacked, countless innocents killed or injured, infrastructure targeted and destroyed, and civil law enforcement negated. All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable. It is time for the UN to not just call for a cease-fire, but for an inquiry as to Israel’s actions.” This letter can be viewed in full here.
And on the very same day that Kucinich wrote his letter, former UN Under-Secretary-General, and novelist, Shashi Tharoor was penning an article saying that Indians envied Israel’s ability to operate as it pleased [see our posts, here and here – Tharoor’s article was posted on the Huffington Post with the title (he wrote it) “India longs to follow Israeli path of reprisal“] .
Shashi Tharoor wrote his article on 29 December — and did not bother to correct it even before it was published in the Huffington Post on 19 January, one day after two unilateral cease-fires (Israel’s and Hamas’) went into effect in Gaza.
Then, after reaction to that piece, Tharoor wrote again something he called “Apologia”, which was published in the Huffington Post on 27 January — a somewhat dizzy retraction in which he wrote: “Many of you have read my article as endorsing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and deplored the article’s apparent indifference to the humanitarian tragedy that followed. I regret the misunderstanding of the intent and thrust of the piece, which was not written as a commentary on the conflict in Gaza. [!] When I wrote the article I was thinking only about india/pakistan – the assault on Gaza had just begun when I put my fingers to the keyboard … Obviously I had no sense at the time of writing of the scale of the israeli action that was to follow and the toll that would be taken in civilian lives. But in any case the article says India cannot, should not and would not do what Israel has done … Using the Israel parallel – at a time when my email inbox was brimming with messages of the ‘why can’t we do the same as Israel?’ variety – was just a way of bringing greater attention onto India’s dilemma and its anguish, while arguing that there is no ‘Gaza option’ for India. Of course I should have realized that using an unfolding event as a peg would make my argument hostage to the way that situation evolved. Inevitably, some readers would judge the article in the light of what has happened in the two weeks after I wrote it. Had Israel taken out a few rocket sites and withdrawn in 3 or 4 days, as I had expected, perhaps the analogy would have seemed less offensive” …
Despite his inability to recognize or correctly assess, by 29 December, what was happening in Gaza, Shashi Tharoor — having won election this past spring to India’s parliament as a representative of the Congress Party in Kerala State — has since become India’s Foreign Minister, in yet another triumph of style over substance…
UPDATE: Yaakov Katz has written on Sunday in the Jerusalem Post that “Amid Israeli efforts to bolster military ties and export military hardware, the Indian Chief of Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday for talks with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi … Israel and India enjoy close defense ties and Israel last year overtook Russia as the number-one supplier of military platforms to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually. According to press reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. The visit to Israel comes just before the first anniversary of the attacks last November in Mumbai against a hotel as well as a Chabad House, during which over 170 people were killed, including the Chabad emissary to Mumbai and his pregnant wife. Since the attack, Israel has assisted India in beefing up its security, particularly along its coast, where the terrorists allegedly infiltrated from nearby Pakistan. Last Tuesday, Kapoor was quoted [by news sites] as saying that … ‘We have to take all steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks. We cannot rule out apprehensions of such possibilities … India cannot afford to witness a repeat of 26/11″ … Yaakov Katz’s report in the JPost can be viewed in full here.
Here is the result of the voting in the UN General Assembly
In favour of the resolution on the Goldstone report: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United States.
Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
Absent: Bhutan, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.