PA: Abbas Gov't Will Fall if Goldstone Report Not Adopted

The Palestinian Authority and Arab countries are conducting a diplomatic campaign in Geneva to convince the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt the Goldstone Commission report and its recommendations in full.

The report found evidence that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip this January, and called on the parties to conduct immediate investigations of their own.

The Palestinian say that if their proposal does not garner support, it could bring about the collapse of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, yesterday attacked UN Security Council members for deciding to discuss the Goldstone report, saying they were encouraging terror rather than debating genuine subjects of concern in the Middle East.

Senior officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry said the Palestinians have gained diplomatic support in Geneva from Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba, among others.

Saving Abbas, or halting peace?

Representatives of the Palestinian Authority and Arab states say that it's not just Abbas' standing at stake; Hamas also stands to gain from the potential damage Abbas' Fatah movement would absorb.

Israel and the United States say that promoting the report and adopting its recommendations will halt the peace process.

American diplomats in Geneva have told their counterparts they do not accept the Palestinian argument, and say that internal Palestinian problems in Geneva should not - and cannot - be solved in Geneva.

The United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to begin hearings on the Goldstone report today. The hearings will continue through tomorrow afternoon, at which point a vote will take place. If the debate runs over, the vote will be postponed until Monday.

Regardless, Jerusalem believes the Palestinians will garner a majority of the council votes.

Israel is devoting major efforts to convince European Union members to vote against adopting the Goldstone report, or at least to abstain in the voting.

Israeli officials hope that if the report is adopted without Western support, it will reduce the legitimacy of the resolution and make it easier to block at later stages.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told European foreign ministers yesterday that adopting the report could encourage terrorist organizations around the world.

Shalev said yesterday that the report deprives Israel of the right to defend its citizens. The UN Security Council's regular monthly debate on the situation in the Middle East was due to take place later this month, but was moved forward with Libya's support.

As the debate opened yesterday, the United Nations undersecretary stated on behalf of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Israel and the Palestinians should immediately open their own internal investigations into the war crime allegations.