The New York Times reports that:

In a startling shift, the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council dropped its efforts to forward a report accusing Israel of possible war crimes to the Security Council, under pressure from the United States, diplomats said Thursday.

The Americans argued that pushing the report now would derail the Middle East peace process that they are trying to revive, diplomats said.

“We don’t want to create an obstacle for them,” Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said by telephone from Geneva, where the Human Rights Council is based. “We want to get a strong resolution to deal with the report in a good manner to get a benefit from it.”

Trying to find the reason, the reporter, Neil MacFarquhar, suggest the reason for this shift is pressure by Israel on the Americans and possibly on the Palestinian Authority:

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned the Palestinians and international powers earlier Thursday that any action to advance the report would be a denial of Israel’s “right to self-defense” and would kill any chance of peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu, speaking during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, said that any international endorsement of the report would “strike a severe blow to the war against terrorism.”

But most immediately, he said, it would “strike a fatal blow to the peace process, because Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied.”

Well, that’s an interesting theory, but let’s read what David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post has to say (read it, it’s an excellent analysis):

The behavior of the PA over Judge Richard Goldstone’s report on Operation Cast Lead, however, is leading Israeli officials, in the security forces and beyond, to question ever more deeply whether the PA itself, in its current constellation, can serve as a genuine partner in that struggle [for peace].

For it is the PA, most emphatically encompassing its President Mahmoud Abbas and its widely admired Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, that is pushing hard for Israel’s Goldstone-alleged “war crimes” in Gaza to be brought within the jurisdiction of the international legal mechanisms in The Hague. It is the PA, Israel’s ostensible partner on the ground, that is agitating for Israel to stand in the dock.

Writing in Yediot Aharonot on Thursday, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy described the Goldstone panel, with good cause, as tantamount to a creation of the PA.

While Abbas was privately urging Israel to finish the job against Hamas in Gaza at the turn of the year – a Hamas that had killed and wounded hundreds of his Fatah loyalists when it seized power in the Strip in 2007 – the PA president and his officials simultaneously rushed to the UN Security Council to accuse Israel of war crimes, Halevy notes, and stirred the accommodating Israel-bashers of the UN’s Human Rights Council into establishing what became the Goldstone mission.

Halevy rightly castigates Abbas’s astounding hypocrisy: On the one hand, the PA accuses Israel of war crimes and seeks, by extension, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense; on the other hand, the PA knows that it owes its very survival in the West Bank to the IDF’s tenacious ongoing battle against Hamas. The officers Abbas would now like to see arrested for their “crimes” in Gaza, Halevy points out, are the very same officers who, with their troops, are risking their lives to keep him and his Authority in power – indeed, to keep him alive.



To add to what Horovitz is saying, I believe that we’ve made some points on, as can be seen in this Open Letter, that the international movement to castigate Israel as an apartheid state and to attack any Israeli cultural presentation or products, as well as the boycott and divestment movement are at the very least connected to Fatah, which is for all intents and purposes the PA, and may actually be driven by this political entity.

I think what happened with the Palestinian delegation in the UN not moving forward with the push to present Israel to the Hague may be connected less to Netanyahu’s vocal threats about the possibility of death to the peace process and instead are most likely the fruit of some Israeli contacts with the PA related to what Horovitz reports that Halevy points out about the hypocrisy of the PA. I would suspect that Israel may have told the PA that if they do push ahead with this chutzpah, that they will find themselves without Israeli support and protection even as Hamas continues to build itself up in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.

The last thing those guys at the PA want to see is Hamas do to them in Ramallah what it did to them in Gaza. Since Israel’s “war criminal” soldiers are the key buffer saving the PA from its brethren, one has to assume that diplomats were informed by the PA to tone down the rhetoric and not take any steps to undermine the IDF.

This is a fine short-term solution for Israel, but it is making a mistake if it believes this will be a permanent arrangement. On the day the PA feels strong enough, it will revert to the original plan to send Israeli commanders to the Hague. That day is not far from coming considering the ongoing training and supply of Palestinian fighting forces by the US with Israel’s blessing. Fayyad has already announced that he expects to develop the infrastructure of a Palestinian state within 2 years, something he is capable of achieving. And of course, the cultural attacks on Israel will continue – expect to see many more shills Palestinian advocates such as Naomi Klein (Jewish) and John Greyson (Gay) attacking Israel using Fatah’s preferred “apartheid” argument.

Ultimately, Israel will have to do what I wrote they should do on the day the Goldstone Report came out, and as Horovitz suggests in his analysis: put together a serious investigative committee to look into the charges by Goldstone. It is easy enough to find flaws with many aspects of Goldstone’s report but ultimately, there are also sufficient numbers of accusations that have to be addressed directly in some fashion. If Israel conducts an investigation that isn’t run by the IDF, but rather by an independent commission of serious Israeli jurists and other Israelis, then they may find that some crimes were indeed committed, but they will also likely find that most of Goldstone’s accusations are not credible. Such an investigation actually precludes any possible action at the Hague or any international forum against Israel because if a country responsibly investigates itself – and I am not suggesting the IDF’s investigations aren’t valid, just that to the outside world they appear to be the fox investigating itself after attacking the henhouse (literally, according to Goldstone) – they cannot be put in front of an international court for trial.

It’s time to take the steps necessary to put to rest the accusations against Israel and the best defense in this case is to look carefully at the accusations, investigate them and respond. Not doing so means that within a couple of years, Israel will stand at the Hague and no less importantly, the accusations in the Goldstone Report about Gaza will become common wisdom and eventually the “truth” about the conflict. The only way to preempt this outcome is to put together a credible commission of investigation about Cast Lead and let them have absolute freedom (their first investigation should be who picked that idiotic name) to investigate Israel AND Hamas .

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  • No one looks particularly good here. If the Palestinians had any sense (and perhaps they came round to this viewpoint), they’d simply stay out of the way of the Goldstone report. For despite Bibi’s best efforts, it wasn’t smothered in its crib and has taken on a life of its own. Despite this, he continues to respond by upping the rhetorical ante. That strategy manifestly isn’t working. Bibi behaves as if he’s got something to hide: his reflex to circle the wagons– heatedly condemning the source and the like. Whatever else may be said about it, this response isn’t intelligent and isn’t working.

    • I think Netanyahu gets it. They’re already talking in the Cabinet about a commission. Also the IDF turned over its findings in the criminal investigations to the country’s AG.

  • To be able to say, ‘we looked at the report, investigated specific incidents it identifies, and found no intentional wrongoing’– that would be a vast improvement over what we’ve heard to date.