Posted on November 03, 2009 in Action Alerts

The Arab American Institute opposes H. Res. 867, a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to oppose the endorsement or consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ (The Goldstone Report) in multilateral fora.

H. Res. 867 incorrectly defines the mandate under which the investigation into human rights violations was conducted; distorts the basis for the UN investigation and the findings of the Report; compromises U.S. leadership and the role of Congress on matters of accountability and transparency in international human rights law; and damages efforts by the Obama Administration to restore American credibility in the Middle East.

CLICK HERE NOW to call your Representative and urge him or her to OPPOSE H.R. 867

Congress should adopt responsible, constructive language that demonstrates U.S. commitment to upholding international human rights law. Tell your Representative to oppose H. Res. 867 when it is considered under Suspension of the Rules on Tuesday, November 3!

Please contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote NO on H. Res. 867

Use our political action website at www.capwiz.com/arab for additional contact information or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-225-3121.

About H. Res. 867:

This bill, which was introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Dan Burton (R-IN) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), incorrectly defines the mandate under which this investigation was conducted.

The language of this resolution inaccurately states the expanded mandate Justice Richard J. Goldstone, himself, requested and was granted to lead this investigation. The mandate under which Justice Goldstone conducted this fact-finding mission was “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after…”

The language of the resolution distorts the basis for the UN investigation and the findings laid out in the Goldstone Report.

According to the Report, Justice Goldstone focused on the “mandate as requiring it to place the civilian population of the region at the centre of its concerns regarding the violations of international law” and investigated Israeli and Palestinian actions during 36 specific events.

The investigation team spent considerable time in Gaza, conducted nearly 200 interviews, read thousands of pages of reports, held public hearings in the Middle East and in Geneva, the product of which is the Goldstone Report—an exhaustive 452-page narrative on the investigation mandate, process and findings, including a review of applicable human rights law and conventions.

Several incidents covered in the Goldstone Report examine attacks on hospitals, mosques, and the widely reported killings of Gaza civilians. In Section XIII of the Report, titled “Attacks on the Foundation of Civilian Life in Gaza: Destruction of Industrial Infrastructure, Food Production, Water Installations, Sewage Treatment, and Housing” include: the total destruction of the Al-Bader Flour Mill, the bulldozing and “systematic flattening” of the Sawafaery Chicken Farm (killing all 31,000 chickens), and the bombing of the raw sewage lagoons of the Gaza Water Sewage Treatment Plant causing 200,000 cubic meters of raw sewage to contaminate neighboring farmlands. These, the Report concludes, were not military targets, and were instead evidence of, “unlawful and wanton destruction, not justified by military necessity,” considered war crimes under international law.

Many sections of the Report also call Hamas into account for its violations of law, including the indiscriminate bombing of Israeli citizens in Section XXIV, titled “The Impact on Civilians of Rocket and Mortar Attacks by Palestinian Armed Groups on Southern Israel,” as well as with regard to the detention and treatment of Gilad Shalit, and other methods of force determined by the Report to be unlawful.

For additional information about the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report), visit the official website of the UN Human Rights Council: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm

Executive Summary of UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report PDF): http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48_ADVANCE1.pdf

Full Report on the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (PDF): http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

H. Res. 867 compromises U.S. leadership on matters of accountability and transparency in international human rights law.

This bill lends no support for credible, impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations during the Gaza conflict in January 2009, even though the Obama Administration supports “appropriate domestic review procedures and meaningful accountability to investigate and address all credible allegations of misconduct or violations of international law.”

Congress should play a constructive, responsible role in promoting U.S. leadership in international human rights law and call for the Israelis and Palestinians to launch independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations during the Gaza conflict.

 

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