Source: Palestinians drop endorsement of Goldstone report
Move comes after apparent pressure from Obama; Goldstone: report won't affect Mideast peace process.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday decided to drop its draft resolution condemning Israel's conduct during the Gaza Strip offensive, in effect deferring its adoption of the Goldstone's Commission report accusing both sides of war crimes.
The PA had originally planned to present the draft to the Human Rights Council for a vote in Geneva on Friday. The decision not to pursue the resolution means that any similar effort will have to wait until at least March, a political source in Jerusalem said.
The source added that the decision appears to be based on pressure from the Obama administration, exerted by way of U.S. representatives in Geneva, as well as through contacts between Washington and Ramallah.
The Obama administration has told the Palestinians that a renewal of the peace process must come before any diplomatic initiatives based on the Goldstone report, or any other initiatives that could stifle efforts to renew Israel-PA negotiations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated in recent days that efforts to use the Goldstone report to advance anti-Israel measures in the Human Rights Council or the International Tribunal in The Hague will deal a death blow to the peace process.
Goldstone: Gaza report won't affect peace process
Goldstone said on Thursday that Netanyahu was wrong to claim that pursuing both Israel and Hamas for war crimes would end the Middle East peace process.
"I think [Netanyahu] got wrong what our report is all about," Goldstone said. "He talked about Israel's right to self-defense. That is not what the report was about."
Goldstone said earlier Thursday that he was naive to have believed that Israel might have cooperated with his investigation.
"I believed that Israel would cooperate - it turned to be a naïve expectation, and the problem that we had obviously is to do as fair and complete a job as we could without Israel's participation," he said.
"We couldn't go to Gaza through Israel, but had to make a long and tedious journey through Egypt four times. And it was a pity, as well as the constant referral to the original mandate, which became irrelevant," he added.
"It excluded justification of the military operation and the Hamas shelling," he said. "We looked only at the military operation on both sides in order to determine whether there were violation of the international law on both sides."
Goldstone, a South African judge, spoke to reporters in Washington two days after officially submitting his report to the UN Human Rights Council.
The report accuses Israel and Hamas of war crimes during their three-week conflict in Gaza in January and recommends that both be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution unless they carry out in-house investigations that the UN deems adequate within six months. The council is slated to vote on the matter tomorrow.
Goldstone told reporters that the American reaction to the report both "pleased and disappointed" him, again rejecting claims that his investigation was one-sided.
"I was pleased that our main recommendation - that there should be independent investigation - was accepted. And disappointed by the claims that the report was labeled not even-handed - no details were given. Both sides failed to make crucial distinction between the civilian population and combatants," he said.
The investigator also blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism to that effect, saying"
"I think Netanyahu got wrong what our fact-finding mission was about. It wasn't part of our mandate to check justification for the military actions - we took that as a given."
"I think if the report achieves one good thing, it is to cause this debate in Israel," he added. "It would be a healthy thing."
Lieberman asks counterparts to blast Gaza report
Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman discussed the matter to great extent over recent days, according to a political source in Jerusalem.
On Thursday, Lieberman met with the foreign ministers of 15 different countries, and asked them to support efforts to counter the Goldstone report.
In a conversation with foreign ministers from Brazil, Russia, and the European Union among others, Lieberman warned that the report is a dangerous development that could threaten the ability of democracies to defend themselves.
"This is only the first step," Lieberman said, adding, "the next step will be similar efforts against NATO forces in Afghanistan and Russian forces in Chechnya."
The source said that the PA's decision to pull the proposal shows that they understand the serious consequences of such actions.
"This proves that we were right not to cooperate, and also proves that the Goldstone report was completely political and through diplomatic efforts we were able to scuttle it."
"The clear Israeli message sent to all corners has been that it will be impossible to continue the peace process and extreme attacks on Israel at the same time."
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