Palestine papers: U.S. pressured Palestinians to defer UN resolution on Goldstone report
Al Jazeera releases new documents showing chief PA negotiator was convinced to delay a damning report on Israel's conduct during the Gaza war in order to restart Mideast peace talks.
The Palestinian Authority agreed to defer a UN resolution supporting a Gaza war report criticizing Israel in return for Mideast peace talks assurances, leaked negotiation minutes, known as the Palestine papers, indicated on Wednesday.
Al-Jazeera recently began leaking 1,600 secret documents on Middle East negotiations, which reveal many significant concessions made by the Palestinian Authority in the past years, mostly documents signed by chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat.
On Wednesday, documents leaked by Al-Jazeera showed that the Palestinians were willing to stonewall a UN vote on the Goldstone Gaza war report, which accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during Israel's offensive in Gaza, as a means to restart Mideast peace talks with Israel in late 2009.
In October 2009, PA President Mahmoud Abbas withdrew Palestinian support for sending the Goldstone report to the UN General Assembly for possible action, a move which would have been a first of many steps toward possible war crimes tribunals.
Quoting the minutes of a 2009 meet between Erekat and U.S. Mideast envoys George Mitchell and Davie Hale, the Al Jazeera report showed Washington as trying to sway the PA from backing a UN resolution supporting Goldstone, asking that the Palestinians "refrain from pursuing or supporting any initiative directly or indirectly in international legal forums that would undermine that atmosphere".
Erekat's response, according to the report, which was also released by the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, was to tell Mitchell: "On going to the UN we will always co-ordinate with you."
The chief Palestinian negotiator is later quoted as being unhappy as to the results of the Palestinian delay of the UN resolution, saying "first public response to the Goldstone thing came from Lieberman, who said Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] agreed to postpone the vote because the Israelis threatened to release the 'tapes' showing him coordinating the attack on Gaza with Israel."
The papers also show U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones attempting to calm Erekat's concerns during the October 2009 meeting, saying the U.S. was appreciative for what you did a couple weeks ago,” adding: “It was very courageous.”
Not long after the Palestinian deferral of the Goldstone vote, Palestinian and Israeli officials have told Haaretz that Abbas apparently made the decision under heavy U.S. pressure, with U.S. officials reportedly telling Palestinian leaders that a war crimes debate would complicate efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Abbas' aides defended the step at the time, saying the Palestinians needed more time to win international support for the UN report. They said deferring action did not mean burying the report.