'UNGA should endorse Goldstone report'

Palestinians We have en

Palestinians in Geneva are already counting on a victory Friday, when they expect the United Nations Human Rights Council to agree to pass the controversial Goldstone Report on to the UN General Assembly in New York, and possibly on to the Security Council. "We have enough votes," PLO Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ibrahim Khraishi told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, a day after the council held a six-hour debate on the conclusions of the four-person UN fact-finding mission that investigated Operation Cast Lead, Israel's military action in Gaza. Israel has until Friday to try to keep the report away from the UN in New York, from which it could then be referred to the Security Council, which wields much more power than the Human Rights Council. But already on Wednesday Israel's ambassador in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, admitted it was unlikely that Israel could stop the report from heading to New York. The most Leshno-Yaar said he could hope for on Friday was the support of Western states, a minority on the 47-member council which has voted against Israel since its inception in 2006. "I will never have the numbers" to block the resolution endorsing the report that will come before the council, Leshno-Yaar told the Post. At best, he said, he hoped for "moral" success. "If the United States or other allies refuse to endorse the report, this will be seen as a victory," Leshno-Yaar said. "We are always a minority," he said, adding that "justice has no minority and majority. I want to make sure that my allies in the world of justice are on my side." Israel has attacked the Goldstone Report as biased and inaccurate. Supporting it will harm the future ability of any democracy to fight terror and radicalism, said Leshno-Yaar. "My government in Jerusalem is extremely busy talking to colleagues all over the world, asking them not to support the resolution," he said. The resolution's text was authored by the Palestinians and put before the council by Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria and Pakistan. The draft text, as of Wednesday evening, stated that it "reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by the use of force." It affirmed the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the "Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem." The resolution condemned Israel for not cooperating with the fact finding mission and recommended that the Goldstone Report be sent to the UN General Assembly. Finally, it endorsed the Goldstone Report's conclusion, a move that is interpreted to mean that the report would be sent to the Security Council. South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who chaired the mission, told the Human Rights Council on Tuesday that according to his report both Israelis and Hamas had six months to conduct internal investigations regarding their human rights violations. If they failed to do so, he said, the Security Council should refer the matter to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor. A spokesman for the Human Rights Council in Geneva told the Post that "at present, negotiations are still under way on this draft. As the draft now stands, if passed, the concerned parties, as well as UN bodies, would be called on to implement the recommendations found in the report." He added that once a resolution was passed, the President of the Human Rights Council would inform the General Assembly of the decision. France's Human Rights Ambassador Francois Zimeray said that the United States and the European countries were working to amend the text to create a more balanced resolution. France is one of six Western countries that can vote on the resolution, along with Belgium, Italy, Norway, United Kingdom and the US. "As it is drafted now, it is unacceptable," Zimeray told the Post. The United States mission in Geneva refused to comment on the issue. On Tuesday US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner told the UN Human Rights Council that his country opposed sending the report to the Security Council. He added that the report was flawed and unbalanced. PLO UN ambassador Khraishi said he hoped that a "common consensus" language would be found that would allow the US and the European countries to support the resolution. But the Palestinians, he said, stand firm both on the need to endorse the report and to send it on to the General Assembly in New York. The report was both professional and objective, and Israeli opposition to the report was "a mistake," said Khraishi. Palestinians have a right to full protection under international humanitarian law, he said, adding that respect for that law benefits Israel as well.