10/07/2009, 00.00
PALESTINE - ISRAEL
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Closed-door discussion in UN over war crimes in Gaza. Abbas in the eye of the storm

by Joshua Lapide
The discussion will take place at the Security Council, at the request of the Libyan representative. Proposal also supported by the Palestinian mission to the UN. After protests critical of Abbas, the Ramallah government recognizes its "mistake" in slowing down discussions of the Goldstone report in Geneva. In Gaza, banners against Abbas, calling him a "traitor".

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) - The UN Security Council today held a closed door debate on the Goldstone report that accuses Israel and Hamas of war crimes in the Gaza “Cast Lead” offensive between December 2008 and January 2009. The meeting will take place at the urgent request of the Libyan representative, one of the rotating members of the Council, who described the contents of the report as "very serious". The Palestinian representative to the UN was quick to endorse the request, after criticism of Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority for helping to block the UN General Assembly discussion of the report.  

The 547 page report of Judge Richard Goldstone notes that in the war waged by Israel between 28 December 2008 and January 18, 2009, there were "serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law" and accused Israel of having committed "war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity", with attacks designed to "punish, humiliate and terrorize the civilian population." The report also condemned as "war crimes" rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Gaza against Israeli civilians.

Presented last week to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, its results were to be voted on October 9, but the obstruction of Israel and the United States led to a deferral until next March. The most disturbing fact is that even the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization withdrew its support for a motion calling for the submission of the report to the UN General Assembly.

Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and the Diaspora have expressed outrage against the decision to delay the discussion of the report, attributed to Mahmoud Abbas. In Ramallah, two days ago, over 500 Palestinians demonstrated against the Palestinian Authority. A declaration was distributed among the organizers that considered the delay ordered by Abbas a "slap in the face to all those who express solidarity with the struggle of our people".

Signs that accuse Abbas of being a "traitor" who should be "thrown into the dustbin of history” appeared today in Gaza. The criticisms of the PA are not only from Hamas, but also human rights organizations and international figures.

Perhaps to save the image of Abbas, today his advisor Abed Rabbo, said in Geneva that the Palestinian leadership "made a mistake" and that "the error can be corrected."

According to AsiaNews sources in Bethlehem, there are clear grounds for action by Abbas in Geneva. There are rumours that the leader of the AP received political pressure from the U.S., which in return would ensure progress in the peace process, others say that Abbas has "sold out" to Israel in exchange for promised fabulous economic contracts for the family of Abbas.

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