Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did Richard Goldstone Really Say That?!

There is an advance transcript of what Judge Richard Goldstone is supposed to say in Geneva to the UN Human Rights Council.

Let's hope he doesn't follow the script too closely!
Here's why:

According to the transcript, Goldstone will say:

Mr. President

As you all know, the Mission was established in April of this year with the mandate to investigate "all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza from 27 December 2008 - 18 January 2009, whether before during or after".

But that is not what the mandate actually is, according to the actual UN resolution that originally created the Commission.

Instead, the orginal mandate was:

to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission;

The original mandate--as was the entire resolution--focused on Israel and targeted it as the sole subject of the mission. According to Goldstone, he did not accept the position to head the commission until after the mandate was changed--that is all well and good. But the change was merely an oral understanding, the text of the resolution was never changed, and this oral agreement was not done based on a vote of all parties.

For Goldstone to imply anything else is disappointing.

Goldstone also bemoans that Israel has not responded to the report:

We regret that the response to date of the Government of Israel avoids dealing with the substance of the report.

Now that is outrageous!
Israel clearly and decisively did respond and dealt directly with the substance of the report.

Clearly, not only has Israel responded to the Goldstone Commission Report, but it has responded directly to the substance of that report--something that anyone can plainly see.

It should also be noted the status update from September 17 indicates that Israel has in fact been conducting its own investigation, and has found issues that the Goldstone Commission overlooked:

Following the end of the Gaza Operation in January 2009, the Israel Defense Forces conducted five major "command investigations" in response to complaints and allegations raised regarding IDF's conduct during the Operation. The investigations dealt with five broad areas: allegations of attacks on UN facilities, allegations of attacks on medical facilities and staff, incidents with a large number of civilian casualties, use of munitions containing white phosphorus, and allegations regarding the destruction of private property for military needs. The findings of these investigations are currently being examined by the Military Advocate General in order to determine whether their findings give cause for the opening of criminal investigations by the Military Police. The conclusions and decisions of the Military Advocate General in this regard are subject to the review of Israel's Attorney General and the ultimate review of Israel's Supreme Court. Within the framework of these five broad investigations, 20 specific incidents were examined including four incidents that appear in the Goldstone Report. [emphasis added]

We can only hope that the transcript is in error when it indicates that Goldstone will say:

We relied on reports from others where they corroborated the views we had formed.

Surely an evenhanded fact-finding mission would not show such bias towards preconceived notions.

Judge Richard Goldstone is an honorable man. We can only hope that his actual speech did not hew too closely to the advanced transcript.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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