Het Goldstone rapport
NIEUWSBRIEF VAN PALESTINA ISRAËL FORUM
MAART 2010 – no. 2
Goldstone report – an opening for justice
For our second issue of Perspectives, we maintain the spotlight on Gaza by focusing attention on the dynamics around the implementation of the findings of the Goldstone report on the Gaza war.
The debate rages on both sides of the divide. On one hand, those who seek justice want action at an urgent pace. Israel, on the other hand, is defying international opinion. The overwhelming vote at the UN General Assembly has made no dent in the way Israel sees its moral obligations. It has set up an internal enquiry into its army’s misdoings under a military structure. This has drawn sharp criticism from many quarters.
Human rights activists and organizations are unconvinced that an enquiry into army misdeeds can ever be adequately uncovered by the very army which is under scrutiny. They have previously asked for full and fair enquiries to be completed on a timely basis. These organizations argue that international instruments of law must be applied wherever war crimes are perceived to have been committed.
The Goldstone report recommended that the UN Security Council requires Israel and relevant Gaza authorities to report to it, within six months, on investigations and prosecutions both parties should carry out with regard to the violations identified in the report. If independent proceedings were not carried out in good faith, the Security Council should refer the situation in Gaza to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
So far, both parties have fallen short of their obligations. In November 2009, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) observed in a letter to the UN secretary general that “if the recommendations of the Goldstone report were pursued, it would send a strong message to combatants in all conflicts that nations or groups cannot act with impunity, and that there must be appropriate channels of accountability for the perpetrators of crimes in any form of conflict”. He further affirmed that “the need of the hour is an unequivocal affirmation of the highest principles of justice, human rights and humanitarian practices”.
The execution of the Goldstone report is an acid test for the UN. Its credibility and very relevance is under inquiry. Fears that compromises will be struck haunt those who seek justice. The victims themselves will probably lose hope in multilateral institutions should the Goldstone report be reduced to mere archival material. This would expose the double standards of the international community, especially in view of the fact that war criminals have been and are under trial at the hands of judges in the International War Crimes Tribunal.
On 26 February, the 64th UN General Assembly plenary once again called for ‘credible’ probes by both sides into the Gaza conflict. It followed the inconclusive report from the UN secretary general’s recent investigations into possible violations of international law during the conflict in Gaza. The General Assembly has asked that fresh reports be submitted in five months. Assembly resolutions are non-binding on member states. Yet, churches around the world are called to be alert and agile and speak out against the delaying tactics. The Goldstone report is a precursor of hope in a situation that otherwise seems at an impasse. It is imperative that pressure is applied on both parties to live up to their basic obligations.
The surviving victims of the Gaza war, whether Palestinians or Israelis, must be served justice. Many of the dead, injured, and displaced, were innocent people who did not choose war. Inaction and apathy will obfuscate the truth and tyranny will have prevailed.
Public witness programme, Special focus on the Middle East
World Council of Churches
“The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others” – Dag Hammarskjold (UN Secretary-General, 1953-61)
Perspectives on the Goldstone report and the Gaza war
General Assembly sets a deadline for a fresh report on Gaza War
“Taking note of the Secretary-General’s recent inconclusive report on investigations into possible violations of international law during the deadly 2008/2009 conflict in Gaza, the General Assembly today requested a further report in five months…” (UN) Secretary-General noted that “the processes initiated by the Government of Israel and the Government of Switzerland are ongoing, and that the Palestinian side initiated its process on 25 January 2010. As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution by the parties concerned”. Read the full resolution of the UN General Assembly
U.S vows to bury Goldstone report at UN
According to the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), “Israeli sources reported Saturday [6 February 2010] that the United States vowed to Israeli leaders to bury the report of Judge Richard Goldstone on Israel’s war in Gaza last year. The sources added that the Israeli government vowed to respond to the report of Goldstone by forming an independent committee.” Read the full article
Exclusive interview with Colonel Desmond Travers – Co-author, Goldstone report
“Meeting Colonel Desmond Travers, one of the four co-authors of the UN’s landmark Goldstone report, a year after the end of the Israeli invasion of Gaza was a fascinating experience,” says Dr Hanan Chehata from the Middle East Monitor (MEMO). “Sitting together in Dublin, he was clearly a man of strong convictions and he was very passionate about getting justice and accountability for the victims of war crimes.” Read the full interview
Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The UN Secretary-General “sent notes verbales to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, drawing their attention to the relevant provisions of resolution 64/10, and requesting written information by 29 January 2010 concerning any steps that may have been taken or were in the process of being taken in relation to their implementation. The full text of the materials received by the Secretariat in reply to those requests is attached as annexes. The report also contains the observations of the Secretary-General.” Read the full text of the report
Israel rejects UN demands over Gaza War report
According to The Palestine Chronicle, “Israel has rejected United Nations demands of an independent probe into its last year war on the Gaza Strip which claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians. A senior official in the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Friday that the report Israel gave UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the investigations it is conducting into Operation Cast Lead earlier this month is sufficient. “Israel feels the report it gave was a serious, comprehensive, credible and complete answer to the UN secretary-general” the official said. The United Nations blasted Israel last week for what it called Israel’s un-reliable report.” Read the full article
Latest Israeli response to Gaza investigations totally inadequate
“Israel’s latest response to the UN on its investigations into alleged violations of international law by its forces in Gaza a year ago is totally inadequate,” Amnesty International said on 2 February 2010. Read the full article
Israeli commander: ‘We rewrote the rules of war for Gaza’
“A high-ranking officer has acknowledged for the first time that the Israeli army went beyond its previous rules of engagement on the protection of civilian lives in order to minimize military casualties during last year’s Gaza war,” says Donald Macintyre from The Independent. Read the full article
Israel Defense Forces denies disciplining top officers over white phosphorous use in Gaza war
According to an article published on the website of the Israeli Occupation Archive, “the Israel Defense Forces on Monday denied that two of its senior officers had been summoned for disciplinary action after headquarters staff found that the men exceeded their authority in approving the use of phosphorus shells during last year’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government wrote in a recent report.” Read the full article
Hamas: Cairo Wall Cannot Shake Gazans’ Will
“Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has scoffed at the blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying walls cannot force Palestinians to submit to external control,” The Palestine Chronicle reports. “‘Gaza is surrounded on three sides; north, east, and south; to make it raise a white flag,’ Haniyeh said on Monday [8 February 2010], insisting that Egypt’s underground wall will fail to produce Cairo’s desired effect. (…) The Gaza Strip has long been under siege by the Israelis, who have closed all Gaza crossings, preventing donated food and other basic needs into the area, which is home to some 1.5 million Palestinians.” Read the full article