by Ian Curr
Despite the best efforts of Western democracies the UN human rights council has supported the Goldstone Report on Gaza. The significance of the Goldstone report is that it focussed on possible war crimes committed by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) when it invaded Gaza in January 2009.
Some of the findings were as follows:
- There were deliberate attacks against the civilian population in Gaza by the Israeli defence force
- Israel used white phosphorous, heavy metal weapons, and depleted uranium against the people of Gaza
- Israeli Defence forces made attacks on the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment and housing
Obama, where art thou?
Of course, both Israeli and its main supplier of weapons (the US government) tried to delay any action on these findings. We should question what effect this report will have on the ground while settlements continue to be built by Israel in the occupied territories and Palestinians remain imprisioned by the IDF in refugee camps in Gaza and elsewhere.
Even though so called democracies like Israel, Canada, and Australia did not have a vote on the human rights council they did their best to prevent any action being taken on the war crimes in Gaza by the UN or by the international court in the Hague.
The result of the vote on the UN human Rights council was as follows:
In favour (25): Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia.
Against (6): Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, and United States of America.
Abstentions (11): Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and Uruguay.
Here is part of the resolution (as if this is not the first time in UN history that such resolutions have been passed and ignored by Israel):
1. Strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites particularly in Occupied East Jerusalem, on the basis of national origin, religion, sex, age or any other discriminatory ground, which are in grave violation of the Palestinian People’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
2. Condemns further the recent Israeli violations of human rights in Occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the confiscation of lands and properties, the demolishing of houses and private properties, the construction and expansion of settlements, the continuous construction of the separation Wall, changing the demographic and geographic character of East Jerusalem, the restrictions on the freedom of movement of the Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem, as well as the continuous digging and excavation works in and around Al-Aqsa mosque and its vicinity;
3. Demands Israel, the occupying power, to respect the religious and cultural rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the core International Human Rights instruments, the Hague Conventions, and the Geneva Conventions, and to allow Palestinian citizens and worshippers unhindered access to their properties and religious sites therein;
4. Demands also Israel, the occupying power to immediately cease all digging and excavation works and activities beneath and around Al Aqsa Mosque and its vicinity, and refrain from any acts or operations that may endanger the structure or foundations or change the nature of holy sites both Christian and Islamic in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
5. Requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights, pursuant to resolution S-9/L.1 and in the context of her periodic reports, to monitor, document and report on the state of implementation by Israel, the occupying power, of its Human Rights obligations in and around East Jerusalem;
Although without a vote on the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian government backed the US position on the Goldstone report, i.e. adopted the position initially taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA) under pressure from the US to defer UN consideration of the report.
Doublespeak by Australian government in the UN
Here is the synopsis of the speech by the Australian representative, MIRANDA BROWN at the UN assembly. Her speech was very similar to the representative from Canada:
“MIRANDA BROWN (Australia) took note of the request made by the Palestinian delegation at the twelfth session of the Human Rights Council to defer consideration of a resolution on the Goldstone report until the thirteenth regular session of the Council in March 2010. Only two weeks ago, the lead co-sponsors of the resolution considered that that would allow “more time for broad-based and comprehensive consideration” of the report. Australia agreed. The earlier decision of the Council in March reflected the complexity and seriousness of the question. Australia did not consider this Special Session was warranted at this time.”
There is very little point in trying to change the view of Australian governments by direct appeal or negotiation, they are locked in solid with the US and remain pro-Israel. We should look to defying the Australian government and its actions in support of Israel and the United States.
Such governments have little if any regard of the views of people concerned with human rights. Successive Australian governments have opposed allow refugees to enter Australia from the Palestinian territories, Iraq or Afghanistan (not to mention Sri Lanka and other war ravaged countries). At the same time the Australian government chose not to condemn the violence done by Israel or the US that produced the need for those people to flee that violence.
The current political system in Australia offers little or no solution to those people concerned about human rights abuse in our region or in places like Palestine.
It is our job to find an alternative.
There are sections of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank who have openly criticised the subservience to the American ‘peace process’ and by implication to the governments (like the Australian government) who support this sham.
But will these groups break with the old school, corrupt and lazy, while the Palestinian people resist with such courage and determination?
Map of the Region (occupied-territories-and-gaza)
Source: United Nations Human Rights Council
Date: 16 Oct 2009