Barak calls for Goldstone rejection

Arab envoys to ask Secur

Ahead of Wednesday's UN Security Council debate set to be used by Palestinian diplomats and representatives of Arab states to press for action on the Goldstone Report, Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a series of phone conversations with world statesmen and diplomats in a bid to convince them not to adopt the findings of the report, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter. Among others, Barak spoke with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. The Defense Ministry said Wednesday that in the previous night's conversations, Barak said, "The Goldstone Report is false, twisted, biased and supports terror." "Adopting the report will likely give encouragement to terror organizations across the world," he reportedly added. "Democratic nations must understand that adopting the report will severely impair their ability to fight terror." Israel's ambassador to the UN in New York, Gabriela Shalev, is expected to address the council during its monthly debate on the Middle East. Jerusalem has rejected the Goldstone Commission's mandate as biased and inherently flawed, but Wednesday's debate presents Israel with an opportunity to publicly address Arab states. The Security Council meeting was moved up from October 20, after a Libyan request for an "emergency" session to discuss the Goldstone document was denied. Palestinian officials have rallied support at the UN among countries that plan to weigh in on the report, produced last month by a four-person commission headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. "We are sure that several countries will talk about Goldstone. It will be a big part of the discussion," a Western diplomat said. Still, the Security Council, which has the authority to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to use the document as a basis for prosecuting individual Israelis, is not expected to take any action on the matter. The debate in New York will take place a day before the UN Human Rights Council holds a special session on the report in Geneva. The Human Rights Council will likely demand action on the report, including sending it to the UN General Assembly, which in turn could send it to the International Court of Justice. The UNHRC could also demand that the Security Council turn to the International Criminal Court, a move that would likely be vetoed by Western countries on the Security Council. While US officials have repeatedly stressed their position - that fallout from the Goldstone Report belongs in the Human Rights Council, which mandated the fact-finding mission - Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has crisscrossed the globe, shoring up support for a discussion in the Security Council. Malki is expected to speak on Wednesday, to press the cause and raise other concerns, including the recent Israeli security measures in Jerusalem around the Temple Mount. "Of course the emphasis will be on the Goldstone Report, and we are inviting all countries to come and to intervene in that session and really to stress the importance of the discussion of the Goldstone Report and the importance of endorsing the recommendations of such a report," Malki told reporters in New York on Friday. He spoke following meetings with the Vietnamese ambassador, this month presiding over the Security Council, and the president of the General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya. "We not only supported the [Goldstone] Commission, we also supported the report that came out of the commission, and we also supported all the recommendations that were in that report," Malki said. "This is our only choice, to continue with such a report in order to seek its implementation and for the recommendations to be implemented," he said. "That's why we are here." Malki also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who on Sunday praised Palestinian leaders' engagement with UN member states regarding the Goldstone Report. The secretary-general and PA President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by phone, and Ban "expressed his support for President Abbas's engagement with member states on a proper process for the consideration of the Goldstone Report," according to Ban's spokeswoman, Michele Montas. She said Ban would elaborate on his views on the report when the matter was officially taken up by UN bodies. But in Geneva, PLO Ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Khraishi said he saw the call as a sign that Abbas supported the Palestinian decision to call for a special session. "Yesterday's statement by the secretary-general was very important," Khraishi told The Jerusalem Post. On Tuesday, the Human Rights Council said that 18 of its 47 member states had co-sponsored the Palestinians' request for the session: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Senegal. The session starts on Thursday and ends on Friday, the council said. This is the 12th special session the UN Human Rights Council has held since its inception in 2006, and the sixth that it has held on Israel. Khraishi said that the Palestinians had expanded the text of the resolution it was planning to place before the council, to include Israeli violations of international law in east Jerusalem. Speaking to reporters in New York on Tuesday, Montas said Ban would only consider bringing the Goldstone Report to the Security Council after Friday, once the Human Rights Council had approved a resolution on the matter. The United States and other Western states on the council can veto any action that body might take on the report. But there is no such veto power in the UN General Assembly. Palestinian leaders have pledged to pursue the implementation of the Goldstone Report in several UN venues, and their next focus is the General Assembly, after Wednesday's Security Council debate. Malki said Palestinian diplomats were coordinating with Libya, Arab states and others to get "full backing and support."