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Middle East
Abbas defends Goldstone vote delay
Palestinian president says delay in endorsing Gaza report was for garnering more support.
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2009 22:35 GMT
Abbas has been strongly criticised for the delay in endorsing the Goldstone report [File: EPA]

Mahmoud Abbas has defended the decision to delay the endorsement of the Goldstone report on Gaza war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council, saying it was intended to garner adquate votes for its adoption.

"Since we felt we would not be able to gather enough support we asked for the postponement," Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said on Sunday in justification of the controversial postponement.

The delay has brought Abbas under immense criticism, particularly from the Palestinian group Hamas.

But Abbas insisted it was the right decision, saying: "The draft resolution did not gather the number of voices that we wanted. We did not want this draft resolution to be turned into a number like all the other resolutions regarding Palestine that are still not implemented."

The October 2 postponement in endorsing the UN-sponsored report, listing Israeli and Hamas war crimes during Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip last winter, has angered a majority of Palestinians.

The report authored by Richard Goldstone has been more critical of Israel and critics of Abbas say the postponement has allowed Israeli officials responsible for 'targeting and terrorising" Gaza civilians off the hook. 

An endorsement of the report would have facilitated the eventual prosecution of Israeli officials responsible for the war crimes.

Abbas argument

The vote would have been one of many steps to bring Israeli officials before a war crimes tribunal, something many Palestinians want to see.

In video


Abbas' speech on Gaza war report raises more questions than answers

About 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died as a result of the 22-day conflict between last December and January.

Abbas said that there had not been significant enough support for the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council: "The draft resolution was either totally rejected, partially rejected or some countries expressed their reservations.

"We wanted to reach mechanisms that would ensure the implimentation of the decision and punish the perpertrators of crimes against our people.

"We have been lobbying and pushing for the issuance of a draft resolution that will be submitted to the UNHCR [the UN Refugee Agency] through some friendly countries ... in order to gather greater support for this resolution.

"We have .... held numerous contacts in order to gather the greatest level of support from African groups, Arab groups, Islamic groups, as well as the non-alligned movement and other countries.

"We wanted to ensure an international environment that would provide a better environment to protect our people."

Hamas criticised

Abbas said that Hamas's criticism of the postponement was aimed at bolstering its own position.

In depth


 Video: Anger at Abbas
 Video: Interview with Richard Goldstone
 Video: Interview with Richard Falk
 Timeline: Gaza War
 Analysis: War crimes in Gaza?
 Goldstone's full report to the UN rights council
 Key points of the Goldstone report
 UN inquiry finds Gaza war crimes
 'Half of Gaza war dead civilians'
 PLO: History of a Revolution
 'Israel has to be accountable'

"This campaign of Hamas aims to serve their interests which is to postpone the signing of the reconciliation deal," Abbas said, referring to efforts to bring about unity between his own Fatah group and Hamas.

"They want to consecrate their rule and regime in Gaza. They want to ensure the continuity of the division. They aim at weakening the national Palestinian Authority."

Commenting on Abbas's speech, Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said it was partisan.

"If someone was expecting an apology or an explanation of a mistake we certainly haven't heard it today.

"He spoke more as the head of the Fatah faction than the president of all the Palestinian people.

"In the sense that he locked himself in, in aggressive tones with Hamas leaders rather than come as the great reconciliator ... and that is not good politics for a Palestinian president."

Aymen Moheldyn, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said many Palestinians would find Abbas's speech "very disturbing".

"It was a very disturbing tone for those hoping for national reconciliation. There is certainly no love lost between the two factions [Hamas and Fatah]," he said. 

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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