10/12/2009, 00.00
PALESTINE – UNITED NATIONS
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Mahmoud Abbas backtracks, says postponing vote on Goldstone Report a mistake

The president of the Palestinian National Authority disowns decision taken a week ago in Geneva. Meanwhile the signing of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal set for 25 October in Cairo is called off.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he is reversing his decision to have the vote on the Goldstone Report in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) postponed until March. On 2 October, the Palestinian representative had agreed to delay the vote on the report that accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes in last January’s Gaza War.

In a video message on Saturday, Abbas said the postponement was a mistake and that he had given the Palestinian representative at the UNHCR instructions to call for a vote. The earlier decision was the result of Israeli and US pressures.

The president’s change of heart was the result of protests in Ramallah and throughout the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians protested against Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), calling the delay an “insult to the people.”

Abbas tried to defend his first decision to agree to a six-month deferral by suggesting that, “the deferral came after an agreement between all the groups in the Human Rights Council, and after studying all positions and seeking the utmost support for the project”.

The UNHRC vote on the Goldstone report will determine further UN initiatives on the Gaza War.

The document tabled in Geneva suggests that the UN Security Council refer the charges to the International Court of Justice if Israel and Hamas do not conduct investigations to determine who is responsible for the crimes committed during the war.

In the meantime, Abbas’ indecision has already had an impact on the process of national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

The agreement the two Palestinian factions were supposed to sign in Cairo on 25 October had already been postponed by Hamas because of the PNA’s decision to postpone the vote on the Goldstone Report.

However, Fatah Executive Committee General Secretary Yasser Abed Rabo accused Hamas of using the UN report to avoid talks.

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