US Undermines Justice For Gaza Conflict

3171327878_4503c275b2_oOn September 29, Justice Goldstone officially presented his report on the conflict in Gaza to the United Nations Human Rights Council. “The failure of the US and EU governments to endorse the report sends a message that serious laws-of-war violations will be treated with kid gloves when committed by an ally,” said the group Human Rights Watch today. Other human rights organizations such as Amnesty International are also expressing grave concerns about the US reaction to the report.

Justice Goldstone called on council members to endorse the report’s recommendations, including those designed to ensure accountability for serious violations of the laws of war, by involving the stature and clout of the United Nations Security Council. In opposing that key recommendation, the US resorted to calling the report “unbalanced” and “deeply flawed”, but provided no real facts to support the assertions.

In fact, the report reflects a sober and careful assessment of the violations committed by both sides in the conflict. A statement read by the Swedish ambassador, on behalf of the EU, recognized the seriousness of the effort but also failed to endorse its conclusion and recommendations. EU countries on the Council, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, remained silent about the report.

US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner told the Human Rights Council yesterday: “The unbalanced recommendations taint many of the report’s suggestions for international action. Israel, as a democracy with a well established commitment to the rule of law, has the institutions and ability to carry out robust investigation into these allegations.”

Michael Posner is ignoring Israel long and documented history of failing to impartially investigate and prosecute members of its security forces in war crimes. According to Israeli human rights groups, from 2000 to September 2008, Israel convicted only five soldiers of wrongful killing of Palestinians during a period when more than 2,200 Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

“The US effort to dismiss the Goldstone report is downright shameful for an administration that claims to promote the rule of law and accountability for war crimes. It was also deeply disappointing that key EU governments did not seize this opportunity to demand justice for victims on both sides of the conflict. The report detailed findings, and its careful recommendations deserve support, not dismissal and silence,” said Juliette De Rivero, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International is also pressing the Israeli authorities to disclose details of what they claim are internal investigations into the conduct of the IDF.

“It was surprising to learn about these investigations, as the Israeli authorities have previously failed to respond to our repeated requests. We need to know whether these investigations were in any sense independently conducted or whether they were merely a case of the military investigating itself,” said Malcom Smart, the Middle-East and North Africa director for Amnesty International.

The US has argued that adopting the Goldstone report and its recommendations would disrupt its efforts to revive the Middle-East peace process. However, it is precisely the opposite; it is not the Goldstone report that is “unbalanced”, to quote Assistant Secretary Posner, but the US policy in the Middle-East, which has always being¬† tilted in favor of Israel for the past 30 years, and will obviously remains the same way under the Obama administration.

To find out more about the Goldstone report and read the full 575 pages document click here.

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