UN vote could 'kill the Goldstone process'
Published Wednesday 29/09/2010 (updated) 29/09/2010 19:07
GENEVA (Ma'an) -- A draft resolution backed by the Palestinian Authority at the United Nations Human Rights Council could undermine the recommendations of a UN-sponsored inquiry into Israel's assault on Gaza, experts say.
Ma'an has learned that the draft chooses not to pursue accountability for crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip, and instead requests further time to conduct domestic investigations.
The UN rights body is voting to endorse the conclusions of a follow-up committee that determined last week that Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip failed to undertake credible investigations into their forces actions during the Gaza assault. The conflict killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
South African jurist Richard Goldstone's fact-finding mission found evidence that Israel and armed Palestinian groups committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity during the operation.
A key recommendation of the final report is to refer both parties to the International Criminal Court if they fail to undertake credible investigations on their own. Last week, the Human Rights Council found they both sides had failed. That conclusion, UN experts say, means the next logical step is to establish a tribunal.
But the draft resolution supported by the PA will not send the report to the ICC, a deficiency that human rights organizations are condemning as another violation of the rights of Palestinian victims.
Time spent on ineffective domestic procedures will achieve nothing, rights experts in Geneva said Wednesday. "They killed the Goldstone process," one official said. "There will be nothing to follow up on."
"The decision of the PA not to pursue international criminal justice perpetuates this practice and denies victims’ rights. The Palestinian leadership is holding justice hostage to politics, and extending impunity to Israeli military and political leaders," a coalition of human rights groups said in a joint appeal issued Wednesday.
"By passing this resolution, the Palestinian leadership and the international community are sending a dangerous message: that what happened in Gaza in 2008-2009 is acceptable," the human rights groups said in Geneva. "With such impunity, there is no guarantee for Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated."
The PA sparked domestic outrage in October 2009 when its envoy to Geneva deferred debate on the report following pressure from Israel and the US, which opposed the report as biased.