Yesterday, after the U.S. exerted enormous pressure on the Palestinians to withdraw their complaint against Israel before the UN Human Rights Council regarding possible war crimes during the Gaza war, the latter acceded. The cruel irony of the following conflicting statements shouldn’t be lost on anyone:
Mr. Khraishi, the Palestinian ambassador, said that…a delay gives the Israelis and Palestinians time to take up another recommendation in the report: that both sides set up independent investigation panels to look into possible war crimes.
–New York Times, Palestinians Halt Push on War Report
Israel’s record of conducting investigations into the conduct of its military forces has been extremely poor. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem documented 773 cases where Israeli forces killed civilians not involved in hostilities during the December-January conflict in Gaza, but found that Israel has to date convicted only one soldier of a crime – for stealing a credit card.
–Human Rights Watch, UN: US Block on Goldstone Report Must Not Defer Justice
As I wrote yesterday, why would anyone believe Israel is capable or willing to investigate itself? It’s every action shows clearly that it sees nothing wrong with anything done by its soldiers in Gaza. In fact, any soldiers who may’ve killed civilians or committed what outsiders would consider war crimes were, in fact, following explicit IDF orders to give no quarter to militants or civilians. When you haven’t done anything wrong in your own mind, how can you take remotely seriously any claim that you have?
The same holds true for Hamas. But I maintain that if Israel DID conduct an independent investigation it would force Hamas to do the same.
Why might the Palestinians have caved? Bibi Netanyahu used Israeli blackmail, threatening a $700 telecom deal that would provide a second cell phone provider for the West Bank, unless the PA withdrew from the Goldstone deliberations.
Bibi also threatened the entire peace process saying Israel couldn’t possibly negotiate peace under threat of a war crimes investigation. Curiously, the U.S. justification for its demand to end the proceedings also involved a claim that it would damage the peace process. It is yet another cruel irony that nation states use such specious Macchiavellian logic to justify the a failure to pursue justice in the face of massive violations of international law.
Yesterday, I heard Jessica Montell of B’Tselem and Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch talk for 90 minutes about the importance of the Goldstone Report. One of them made the very important point that allowing impunity to flourish by deferring justice has never worked as a means of resolving international conflict. Ultimately, there can be no end to conflict till justice is seen to be done by both sides. The U.S. has just deferred and defamed justice.
Barack Obama must be supremely confident that he can make peace between the parties and thus render the Goldstone Report moot. I’m not so sure especially after is questionable decisions of the past week or so. And if he fails and there is another Gaza war without the Goldstone Report having been considered, then Israel will exploit this as carte blache to repeat its brutish prosecution of a massive war against Palestinians civilians.
There is a very great likelihood of another Gaza war. If there is, and Israel behaves the same way it did last January, the U.S. will carry all the blame on its shoulders.
HRW released a strong critical statement today about the suspension of deliberations over the Goldstone Report:
“The failure of the US and European states to endorse the Goldstone report sent a terrible message that serious laws-of-war violations by allied states would be tolerated,” Whitson said.
…“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rejection of the Goldstone report because it would derail the peace process sadly impugns the importance of justice in reaching peace,” said Whitson. “Persistent impunity, not justice, is the greater threat to peace.”
Don’t let the Goldstone Report die.