The European Parliament’s Resolution on the Goldstone Report

, by Alessio Pisanò

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The European Parliament's Resolution on the Goldstone Report
Richard Goldstone

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who has been repeatedly accused of keeping too low a profile on the international scene, now has her chance to silence her critics. A joint resolution backed by the European Parliament during the March plenary in Strasbourg calls on Lady Ashton to lead the EU position on the Goldstone recommendations without any further delay.

Ratified by 335 MEPs to 287, the Chamber endorsed the resolution tabled by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the Green-European Free Alliance, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the European United Left (GUE) which called for a prompt implementation of the recommendations of Richard Goldstone; the South African judge chairing the UN committee to carry out a fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict which broke out in January 2009.

The committee has been set up by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israel and Hamas’ abuses and alleged war crimes during the 23 days of conflict. Goldstone, an eminent international jurist and former chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunals of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, led the mission, pledging to look carefully at both sides.

At first, Israel refused to cooperate with the mission by denying visas for Goldstone’s team to visit Israel and by not answering to the commission’s questions. On the other hand, Hamas and the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank cooperate with the mission, despite the report noting “a certain reluctance by the persons it interviewed in Gaza”.

The 575 page report (188 individual interviews, 300 reports and other documentation, 30 videos and 1,200 photographs) documented serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israel, with some incidents amounting to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, including wilful killings, deliberate attacks on civilian targets, wanton destruction of civilian property, indiscriminate attacks, the use of human shields, and collective punishment against Gaza’s civilian population in the form of a continued blockade. Moreover the report also concluded that rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian armed groups was deliberate and was calculated to cause loss of civilian life and to terrorise Israeli civilians. Such actions therefore, amounted to serious war crimes and perhaps crimes against humanity.

The 575 page report documented serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israel and deliberate rocket fire calculated to cause loss of civilian life by Palestinian armed groups.

The EP now calls on the EU High Representative to address the matter to work ‘’towards a strong EU common (reaction) on follow-up to the report of the fact finding mission“. Moreover, Lady Ashton is required to strive”to monitor actively the implementation of the recommendations“and”to report back to the EP on these assessments".

Without any doubt, it is a demanding challenge for the new appointed High Representative who eventually now has a great chance to answer to the fire of the criticisms she has faced. Will she live up to this? It goes without saying that she cannot miss this opportunity as she did with the OTAN international meeting on 25th February in Majora, preferring instead to attend the appointment of the new Ukraine President. Lady Ashton has definitely the chance to strengthen the EU foreign politics in a matter that still divides the whole world. During the 2009 conflict 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed without any clarification and serious investigation by both Israel and Hamas. If the EU aims to gain a leading role in the global foreign affairs, this is the moment.

During the 2009 conflict 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed without any clarification and serious investigation by both Israel and Hamas. If the EU aims to gain a leading role in the global foreign affairs, this is the moment.

Meanwhile “Human Right Watch” is striving to urge the UN to take the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to shed light on the alleged war crimes as required by the fact finding mission. Will this be also the official “strong and common” EU position? The European People’s Party’s refusal to back the resolution is not a good signal. Lady Ashton will have some work to do.

Image: South African Judge Richard Goldstone has come under fire from both US imperialism and zionist Israel for reporting on the human rights violations commited against the Palestinians in Gaza, source: Pan-African News Wire File Photos’ photostream flickr.

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