Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Report Charges Israel with War Crimes

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - The Goldstone report, which accuses Israel of war crimes in the course of Operation Cast Lead, was raised Thursday for discussion at the UN Human Rights Council, at the request of the Palestinian Authority.

Ahead of the discussion and the subsequent vote that will decide if the report will be adopted by the UN, Israel is getting into high gear.

Despite the low chances of obtaining a majority in Israel’s favor in the vote, politicians and diplomats are trying to influence a few countries in order to recruit them to Israel’s side.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week that the Israeli battle against the report is very difficult because of the majority against Israel in the UN and in a number of UN committees.

He says that this battle will preoccupy Israel in the coming years.

High-ranking government sources said that as of now, the chances of the Goldstone report not being adopted are very low and it appears that the Palestinians will succeed in obtaining a majority.

At the moment, Israel is focusing its public relations activity in the countries belonging to the European Union, the African states, Asia and South America.

As part of the Israeli PR campaign, the work was divided between four people: President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Each of them received a list with a number of heads of state with whom they will talk and ask them not to support the report.

Israel will warn that adopting the Goldstone report means ending the peace process, because Israel will not agree to wage a legal-diplomatic battle along with conducting a peace process.

“The Goldstone report will be part of the international discourse for a long time yet and will be a heavy burden on Israel in the international arena,” said a high-ranking Israeli source.

“We can cope with its ramifications but the problem is that it turns Israel into the defendant and makes the state into a leper. It’s not good for Israel when it is spoken about as if it is a country that commits war crimes.”

What particularly irks Israel is that Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are now aligned. The UN secretary general expressed his support for discussing the report at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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