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Ref: 91/2010

 

The
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) unreservedly condemns the draft
resolution presented by the permanent observation mission of Palestine in
Geneva to the UN Human Rights Council. This draft chooses not to pursue
accountability for crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive on the
Gaza Strip, and instead requests further time to conduct domestic investigations.
However, given the well-documented reality, further time spent on ineffective
domestic procedures can achieve nothing.

 

It
is the Palestinian authorities’ failure to initiate the required and achievable
genuine criminal procedures that has, for the first time ever, placed the
Palestinians on the same level as Israel before the UN. It is this failure that
has resulted in the current situation, whereby the historic opportunity offered
by the ‘Goldstone process’ to end Israel’s impunity risks being lost by the
Palestinians.

 

The
recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, and the
requirements of international law, are clear. In the now proven event that
genuine investigations are not conducted domestically, resort must be had to
mechanisms of international criminal justice. The decision of the Palestinian
leadership not to pursue this route is an insult to all victims. In effect, the
Palestinian leadership is holding justice hostage to politics, and extending de facto impunity to the Israeli
military and political leadership.

 

Over
20 months after the end of the offensive, necessary criminal investigations
have not been conducted by either Israel or the Palestinian authorities; a
finding substantiated by the UN Committee of Experts. Inherent flaws in these
domestic systems render the pursuit of justice, and criminal accountability,
impossible. Further time for ineffective domestic investigations can only
result in the denial of victims’ rights and impunity for the perpetrators of
international crimes.

 

For many years in Palestine, international law, and the rule of
law, have been sacrificed in the name of politics, and cast aside in favour of
an elusive peace process.
Justice is a necessary precondition
for the achievement of sustainable peace and must constitute the foundation of
any peace negotiations.

 

The
international community must assume its responsibility to uphold the rule of
international law, and fight impunity. UN Member States must ensure the
effective implementation of the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, in
particular the focus on criminal accountability.

 

As
has been communicated to the government in Ramallah, any Human Rights Council
Resolution must condemn all parties’ failure to conduct genuine investigations,
and ensure the enforcement of international law by recommending that the
General Assembly urge the Security Council to refer the situation to the
International Criminal Court.

 

We
are forced to inform the victims that the proposed resolution represents an
obstacle to the pursuit of justice, and a denial of their legitimate rights.

 

By
passing this resolution, the Palestinian leadership and the international
community are sending a dangerous message: that what happened in Gaza in
2008-2009 is acceptable. With such impunity, there is no guarantee for
Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated.

 

 

Mr.
Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, and Daragh Murray, International Legal Officer,
are now closely following up these developments in Geneva. 

 

For
more information, please contact:

Raji
Sourani:

Mobile
number: + 972 599 608811

 

Daragh
Murray

Mobile
number: + 353857684647