Cablegate: Embassy Cairo

DE RUEHEG #1997/01 2931509
R 201509Z OCT 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001997



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2029

ACTIVISTS' ANGER OVER U.S. POSITION ON GOLDSTONE REPORT REF: CAIRO 1834 Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.KEY POINTS -- (C) Following the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) October 2 deferral of action on the Goldstone Report, human rights contacts expressed to us privately their deep disappointment in the U.S. position on the report. -- (U) On October 2, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), which closely follows the UNHRC, issued a mixed public statement that praised U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on the freedom of expression resolution, but criticized the U.S. position on Goldstone. Other NGOs were largely silent in public. -- (SBU) On October 17, following U.S. opposition to the UNHRC October 16 resolution on the report, a coalition of NGOs, many of whom are hostile toward USG policy, issued an inflammatory public statement criticizing U.S. "bias" toward an Israeli "government of murderers."

2.(C) Comment: Muted NGO public criticism of the U.S. following the October 2 UNHRC deferral came in the context of commentary in the pro-government and independent press that blamed the Palestinians and the "Arab countries," along with the U.S. and Israel. However, much of the press' post-October 16 reporting criticized the U.S. vote against the UNHRC resolution, including one pro-government paper's condemnation of the U.S. as "corrupt." As press attention began to focus on the U.S., the NGO coalition's shrill criticism of the U.S. was generally consistent with prevailing press sentiments. End comment. --------------------------------------------- --- Contacts' Disappointment over Goldstone Deferral --------------------------------------------- ---

3.(C) Following the October 2 UNHRC deferral, our human rights contacts who most carefully watch the UNHRC privately criticized the U.S. position on Goldstone. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Executive Director Hossam Bahgat called U.S. policy on the report "sad and unfortunate," and asserted that the U.S. "gave up a tool" to pressure Israel into negotiations. He claimed that the U.S. position undermined international justice, and showed that the U.S. values Israel's political needs over those of the Palestinians and other Arabs. Bahgat rejected DRL A/S Posner's references at the UNHRC to Israel's democratic system as irrelevant to Israel's human rights violations. We responded that the U.S. is working with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to re-start negotiations as soon as possible, and that the U.S. is encouraging domestic investigations of human rights violations.

4.(C) Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) Director Bahey Al-Din Hassan charged the U.S. with having a double-standard for Israel. He called for immediate follow-up on Goldstone in the UN, saying that Israel should not be treated differently than "other human rights violators." He made the same point as Bahgat that the U.S. missed an opportunity to press Israel into negotiations. Both Hassan and Bahgat said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's public comments on the report reminded them of Sudanese President Bashir's warning that UN steps against him would jeopardize the Sudanese peace process. Hassan charged that U.S. support for Israel on the report weakened U.S. standing as a defender of human rights.

5.(SBU) CIHRS issued a mixed public statement October 2 that criticized the UNHRC's deferral of action on the Goldstone Report, and praised U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on the freedom of expression resolution. The statement asserted: "In effect, Israel and the U.S. have once again worked together to ensure international impunity for war crimes committed in Gaza by Israeli forces." Other NGOs were largely silent in public over the UNHRC October 2 deferral. --------------------------------------------- -- Anger at U.S. Vote against Goldstone Resolution --------------------------------------------- --

6.(C) Following U.S. opposition to the October 16 UNHRC CAIRO 00001997 002 OF 002 Goldstone resolution, a coalition of 12 Egyptian NGOs issued an October 17 public statement entitled, "Adopting the Goldstone Report: a blow to the government of murderers in Israel, exposing the ugly bias of the American Government." The statement accuses the U.S. of "hostility to international justice," and speculates that Israel "would not have continued to disregard the principles of justice and international law without the support of the U.S. government." It concludes by asserting that a possible U.S. veto in the UN Security Council would "exceed" the actions of "the American war criminals led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld." (Note: Many of the statement's signatories are credible organizations that are well known to us. We have direct contact with several of these NGOs, but others refuse to meet with us over their opposition to U.S. policy. End note.) On October 19, an official from one signatory organization, The Hisham Mubarak Law Center, privately asserted to us that the U.S. position on Goldstone demonstrated that the U.S. has no concern for human rights. Scobey

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