The major Palestinian human rights organizations (16 in all)–including Badil, Adalah, Al Haq, and Arab Association for Human Rights–have condemned the PA’s withdrawal of its complaint against Israel regarding the Gaza war, which was under debate by the UN Human Rights Council. The Palestinian political leadership did it under severe pressure from the U.S., which claimed it would damage the peace process; and under blackmail from Bibi Netanyahu, who threatened to withhold approval of a second Palestinian cell phone provider (a contract worth $700-million). Here is a passsage from the statement:
The belief that accountability and the rule of law can be brushed aside in the pursuit of peace is misguided. History has taught us time and time again, that sustainable peace can only be built on human rights, on justice, and the rule of law. For many years in Palestine international law, and the rule of law, has been sacrificed in the name of politics, and cast aside in favour of the peace process. This approach has been tried, and it has failed: the occupation has been solidified, illegal settlements have continued to expand, the right to self determination has been denied; innocent civilians suffer the horrific consequences. It is now time to pursue justice, and a peace built on a foundation of human rights, dignity, and the rule of law. In Justice Goldstone’s words, there is no peace without justice.
…As human rights organisations we strongly condemn the Palestinian leaderships’ decision to defer the proposal endorsing all the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, and the pressure exerted by certain members of the international community. Such pressure is in conflict with States international obligations, and is an insult to the Palestinian people.
Further, the PA economics minister, Bassam Khoury, has resigned to protest his government’s backpedaling on the Goldstone Report. Thank God there’s at least one honest man there left. He seems to understand that no matter how important building up the Palestinian economy is, doing so with a $700-million contract that forfeits Palestinians’ human rights is a bad bargain. The PA seems so weak that it can’t even call Israel’s bluff and dare them to withhold the cell phone license. I should think that Palestinians can deal with bad or limited cell phone service for a few more months if the greater issue of their human dignity is at stake.
In addition, there is the small matter of the Fatah-led PA not wishing to do anything helpful on behalf of Hamas or Gaza. Isn’t it disgusting that the split between them is so bitter that the PA refuses to stand up for 1,400 Gazans killed in Israel’s war against the entire people of Gaza?
In a recent post, I speculated about the behind the scenes deal-making and sausage-cutting that went into the PA decision to abort the Human Rights Council debate. I speculated that the PA gave the U.S. something (dropping Goldstone) in return for a specific U.S. commitment; and that Israel, in return for stopping the inquiry gave the U.S. something in return. Based on this Haaretz report, it appears I may’ve been right. But the Israeli commitment to enter into final status negotiations seems vague at best:
Jerusalem officials stressed that “U.S. assistance in curbing the effects of the Goldstone report will produce significant pressure on Israel by the Obama administration to move forward with the diplomatic process.”
…Officials believe that the U.S. administration will now pressure Israel to provide compensation for America’s help in curbing the effects of the Goldstone report.
…”After they [the U.S.] saved us from Goldstone, and our argument relied on the desire to advance peace, the Americans will want to see an Israeli move toward peace talks with the Palestinians,” the senior official said.
Barak Ravid, who wrote this report, is often used as a conduit by Israeli officials seeking to publicize their point of view about political developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So clearly someone in the government wants to send a message to Washington that they realize there is an IOU that will come due. But whether this means there is any substance to it that will lead to real negotiations is another matter entirely. If Barack Obama believes Bibi is a gentleman who honors his commitments and repays his IOUs, he is likely to get a rude awakening.