Palestinian Officials in Geneva: Sacrificing the Rights of Palestinians at the Altar of False Promises

Badil Statement, 2 October 2009 – The recommendations of the UN fact finding mission to the Gaza Strip headed by Judge Richard Goldstone represented a golden opportunity for the Human Rights Council, the Security Council, the General Assembly, and all member states – particularly the United States and the European Union – to exercise their moral and legal obligations to hold Israel accountable for its crimes committed during its 2008-2009 war against Gaza. Yet the official Palestinian position calling for the postponement of the vote to endorse the report's recommendations now hamstrings these opportunities. In so doing, it has undermined the principle of international legitimacy as a basis to resolve the Palestinian issue and prevents the Palestinian victims of this assault from achieving redress.

Badil Resource Center, working alongside Palestinian human rights organizations (particularly those with UN ECOSOC consultative status), and other international organizations and bodies, campaigned to ensure support for the report's recommendations from over two-thirds of the States represented on the Human Rights Council. Adoption by the Council of the report's recommendations would have raised them on to the Secretary General, the General Assembly, the Security Council and possibly on to the International Criminal Court. However the official Palestinian position, voiced by PLO Ambassador Ibrahim Khreisheh, now prevents this from taking place. This surprise position came without warning, and is a retreat from a battle that had already been won.

In its defense, elements of the Palestinian leadership attempted to deflect responsibility by claiming that the PLO is no more than an entity with observer status at the UN, and hence without the authority to propose or withdraw draft resolutions. But this does not explain what happened, nor does it constitute a justification for the Palestinian representative to act against a report, which is undoubtedly to their benefit.

Statements made by a number of Palestinian officials both accompanying and following Ambassador Khreisheh decision indicate a serious lack of coordination, and a failure to inform members of the PLO Executive Committee of the decision and its reasons. Badil views the position taken by Palestinian officials in Geneva as self-contradictory, and contrary to the struggle for the implementation of the rights of the Palestinian people. It marginalizes the application of international law and squanders the rights of Palestinian victims at the altar of false political promises.

Badil believes that the official Palestinian position cannot be justified by claiming a lack of preparation within the Council, or the need to give another chance to “peace efforts.” Rather, we see in this official Palestinian stance, the continuity of similar previous retreats. For example, on the eve of the Durban Review Conference held in Geneva in April 2009, the PA Minister of Foreign Affairs acquiesced to dropping specific reference to the question of Palestine at the conference. Ambassador Khreisheh's predecessor at the UN also opposed a proposal made by the President of the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, and calling for the formation of a tribunal to investigate Israel's violations of international law in January 2009.

In light of these considerations, Badil calls upon the Executive Committee of the PLO:

  1. to issue a formal statement explaining the reasons for this position which contradicts the interests of the Palestinian people in general, the victims of Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip in particular, and the supreme national interest of holding Israel accountable for its crimes;
  2. to take all legal, judicial and political measures to hold those responsible for this action accountable;
  3. to work towards the establishment of a national body to coordinate between Palestinian human rights organizations and representatives of the PLO, to strengthen the role of these institutions, and the struggle to defend the rights of the Palestinian people before international bodies.