By Dr Hanan Chehata on the editorial“The Gaza Trap” By (Times Online, Friday 16th October 2009.)
In the Times today you called upon Europe and the UN Human Rights Council to reject the entire Goldstone report, rather than abstaining from a vote on the issue. This is a shocking proposal to make of an official UN investigation into something as serious as War Crimes. You would expect that to support such a radical call there would be some solid arguments at your disposal which justify you calling for such radical action.
However, there are not. If, as you claim, the UNHRC has failed thus far to be a successful champion of Human Rights then why now, when they are finally trying to be that champion and are trying to fulfil their mandate of investigating human rights abuses, would you deny them that opportunity?
If issues as serious as War Crimes are not to be heard in this International forum, then where should they be heard? Where else is it that Israel’s actions can be examined and where else is it that they can be made to stand accountable for their actions?
You argue that the Goldstone report was unfair because Judge Goldstone “reserves his strongest language for Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ use of force and its ‘deliberate targeting’ of Palestinian civilians.” However, where is the injustice in these statements if they are true?
Lastly, it is ridiculous to suggest, as you do, that in rejecting Goldstone this will not prevent Israel launching its own investigation into the part it played in the massacre. You claim that “Israel adheres to standards higher than those of its enemies.” However, I think that it is stretching the boundaries of logic to suggest that an investigation by Israel into Israeli misconduct will be anything other than biased. Why are you afraid to let the conduct of the Israeli government and military be scrutinised in an internationally recognised forum in front of the eyes of the world? If Israel has done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. Let the world judge Israel for her acts and not suggest that Israel judge herself, because we all know what the outcome of that investigation would be!
Dr. Hanan Chehata
Middle East Monitor
Britain Forced to back-track on Goldstone Report
Media reports from Jerusalem and London assert that the British government will abstain in the vote due to take place in Geneva today (15 October) on the Goldstone Report into the Gaza conflict. If confirmed this dramatic U turn would, above all, expose the extent to which Britain’s foreign policy lacks independence.
Two weeks ago the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) contacted the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) for a comment on the Goldstone Report. We were told that Britain believes both sides in the conflict should be held responsible for their actions.
When asked whether the government would support taking the case forward to the Human Rights Council with the possibility of it reaching the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague we were also told that the government was seeking justice and accountability and they would not block any moves to take the matter forward to the appropriate forums.
Faced for the first time in its 60 year history with a serious attempt to hold it accountable for grave violations of humanitarian law Israel has resorted to the desperate measure of pressure politics to save itself. On Wednesday night according to The Times, Prime Minster Netanyaho called Gordon Brown and demanded that Britain rejects the Goldstone Report.
Meanwhile, Haaretz reported (11 October) that Israeli officials had criticized the British Ambassador to the United Nations John Sawers for previously backing the United Nations report, claiming that such support could backfire when Britain tries to conduct its own war on terror.
Israeli officials argue that the report focuses only on Israel and not Hamas. Given the enormity and scandalous nature of the crimes committed one of the investigators, Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI) recounted on Al Jazeera this week some of the most gruesome details of their mission to Gaza, such as the killing of Amal (2yrs), Suad (7yrs) and Samer (4yrs) before the eyes of their father Khalid Abed Rabbo on 7th January 2009.
The Times claims that an investigation into such heinous crimes would jeopardise the peace negotiations. The fact is, there is nothing left on the table to discuss, except of course Israel’s security and its ‘Jewish identity.’ Netanyaho refuses to discus the issue of Occupied Jerusalem, the illegal settlements and the right of Palestinian refugees to return – in defiance of UN resolutions.
Israel has for decades been the litmus test of western adherence to the principles of universal human rights and justice. Human rights have been the cornerstone of the international relations since 1945. It was always been recognized as a prerequisite to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The Palestinians have had more than their fair share of the ravages of war. The Goldstone inquiry uncovered massive violations which amounted to war crimes.
In the light of these sudden developments MEMO did contact the FCO for a comment on the reports in today’s Times and Jerusalem Post. We were unsuccessful. If these reports are true they are an illustration of the extent to which Britain’s foreign policy has become subject to external influence, regrettably against the letter and spirit of the UN Charter. The absolute value in the sanctity of human life, enshrined in the Charter, has once again been sacrificed on the relativist alter of power politics.
Dr. Daud Abdullah
Director, Middle East Monitor