PA reconsiders deferment of Goldstone

PA Hamas exploiting Gol

Israeli violence against Palestinians on the Temple Mount has prompted the Palestinian Authority to consider calling on the UN Human Rights Council to hold a special session to endorse the Goldstone Report, PLO Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. "We decided to use all the UN bodies after the latest Israeli [human rights] violations in Jerusalem," Khraishi said. Last week, in a surprise move, the PA decided to defer until March the UN Human Rights Council-planned endorsement of the report, which condemns IDF action in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Israel has said that the report is biased and flawed. The resolution called for the report to go both before the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. It asked the Security Council ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to use the report to prosecute individual Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians in Gaza. The Palestinian public and the larger Arab world have harshly criticized Abbas for backing away from what would have been a certain victory at the council. Already by mid-week, the PA appeared to have changed its tune, when it supported a bid by Libya to bring the matter to the Security Council irrespective of the UN Human Rights Council, which ended its 12th session earlier this month. The Security Council rejected Libya's request for a special meeting to discuss the report, but agreed to move a regular Middle East debate from its scheduled date of October 20 to October 14. In the interim, the PA is considering asking the UN Human Rights Council to hold a special session to endorse the report. The situation has changed since last week, Khraishi said. Israeli actions against Palestinian worshipers on the Temple Mount have showed that it flouts human rights, he said. "We decided to [defer the resolution] and the next day Israelis acted against our people," Khraishi said. There have been repeated outbursts of violence in Jerusalem since last Sunday, sparked by false rumors spread among Palestinians of an attempt by Jewish extremists to harm the Islamic holy sites in the compound. Khraishi said Israel was violating human rights law by temporarily prohibiting Muslim men under 50 from entering the Temple Mount. "We want the international community to insist that Israel implement its obligations under international law," he said. He said that the PA was holding meetings, including with the US, before collecting signatures from 16 of the 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council, so that a special session could be held. It was likely, he said, that the call for such a session could be issued as early as mid-week. The Foreign Ministry has refused to publicly comment on the matter. A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said the Goldstone Report came up during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Friday meeting with US special envoy George Mitchell. Officials in Jerusalem, who did not want to be named, said that the backlash over the initial decision to delay the vote could unseat Abbas. "This could be a question of survival for Abbas," one official said. Two weeks ago, Israel warned the Palestinians that their desire to push international bodies such as the UN and the International Criminal Court to take action on the report threatened to undermine the peace process. On Saturday, officials in Jerusalem said that Israel had yet to decide if it would take the same tack this time. The government could also threaten to take steps with economic consequences, such as refusing to lift IDF checkpoints. It might also refuse to authorize the operation of a planned new Palestinian cellular network in the West Bank known as Wataniya. "The Palestinians can not wage war with us on one front and expect civility on the other," an official in Jerusalem said. The head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a Turkish science historian, said earlier on Friday that his group would support Palestinian efforts to raise the report in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council that originally commissioned it. "You know that OIC countries and public opinion were saddened by the withdrawal [of the report]," Ihsanoglu told reporters in Geneva. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters at UN headquarters on Thursday that Hamas was trying to take cynical advantage of a document that accused the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza, to curry favor back home. "This clear crisis about the report proves that the Hamas position is really trying to exploit it, to its own favor, trying to take advantage of it, and really score points, rather than having a genuine principled position regarding the report," Malki said. AP contributed to this story.•