The news coming out of Geneva these days is indeed very shocking and depressing. The Abbas government, whose term in office expired long ago, has succumbed to pressure being exerted by Hillary Clinton and Avigdor Lieberman to defer any and all discussion of the Goldstone report on the war crimes in Gaza until next March. Such action, or inaction, is tantamount to a permanent deferral favored by the U.S. and Israel. The unprecedented Goldstone Committee report accuses Israel of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity this past winter in Gaza. In the meantime, 36 nations are ready to resist such vulgar pressure in order to give the Goldstone report a legal standing and to facilitate the prosecution of Israel in the International Criminal Court. Such abhorrent action, or inaction, by the Palestinian Authority (PA) makes it complicit in the crimes committed by Israel last winter against defenseless civilians in Gaza.
The latest complicity by the PA parallels its silence when the International Court of Justice issued its advisory opinion on the occupation in 2004.
The PA position is particularly disturbing given that there existed the requisite number of votes inside the United Nations Human Rights Council to indict Israel on the aforementioned charges. The PA is disingenuous when it claims that a postponement of the vote is necessitated by a lack of a consensus, an impossible condition given the pressure from the U.S. and Israel.
The PA’s position is particularly insidious given the U.S.’s casting of a Security Council veto more than 50 times to protect Israel from international scrutiny. Now the PA is using its virtual veto to cover up Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
How does the PA answer those families who have suffered Israel’s war crimes and its crimes against humanity? How does it answer those who feel the pain of Palestinian men, women, and children who were slaughtered by the Israeli war machine in Gaza? Not to mention more than a million Palestinian civilians in Gaza whose living conditions were turned into a nightmare by Israel’s war crimes?
One might expect the PA to stand firm on the ideals of human rights and international humanitarian law and should represent the victims, not help war criminals get away with impunity.
If the PA is a failed structure, then, some other body should assume the defense of the helpless people of Palestine. Meanwhile, the PA can disband and make room for another body to assume the responsibilities that the PA has abdicated.
Naseer Aruri is the Chancellor Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and a member of the Jerusalem Fund Board. This article was first published by the Jerusalem Fund in its Palestine Center Brief No. 182 (5 October 2009); it is reproduced here for educational purposes.