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Cablegate: Gaza, Goldstone Resolution Passes at Hrc Special Session

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1. (SBU) The Human Rights Council Special Session passed a
resolution endorsing the recommendations contained in the Goldstone
Fact Finding Mission's report on the conflict in Gaza. By a margin
of 25 in favor, 11 abstentions, 6 no votes, and 5 not voting, the
Council adopted the resolution that singles out Israel for
criticism, recommends the General Assembly consider the report, and
requests the UN Secretary General to report to the HRC's 13th
regular session on the implementation of the report's
recommendations. Five European countries (Italy, Netherlands,
Hungary, Slovakia, and Ukraine) joined the United States in voting
no, while the rest of the European members and a handful of African
and GRULAC states abstained. This relatively positive voting result
contrasts with recent past special sessions, on which Canada (when
it was a member) was often the sole "no " vote. U.S. lobbying in
Geneva and capitals played a critical role in building opposition to
this unbalanced resolution. End Summary.

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Key Outcomes

2. (SBU) The Human Rights Council Special Session resolution
concerning the Goldstone Fact Finding Mission's report passed with
less robust majority than recent Israel resolutions, with 25 votes
in favor out of the 47 members of the Council. Six voted against,
including the U.S., Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and
Ukraine. The 11 abstentions came from Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina,
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of
Korea, Slovenia, and Uruguay. The United Kingdom and France did not
vote, despite being present in the room.

3. (U) The resolution recommends that UN General Assembly act on the
report next. It is unclear when and how the UNGA will act, and what
weight it will give to the HRC's and the report 's specific
recommendations if it does. It also condemns Israeli actions in
East Jerusalem, including excavations near the Al-Aqsa mosque;
welcomes the Goldstone report and its recommendations; condemns
Israel's decision not to cooperate with the fact-finding mission;
and endorses the report and recommendations made by the High
Commissioner for Human Rights in her recent report on the Gaza
conflict. The resolution also calls for follow-up at the 13th
regular session of the Human Rights Council in March 2010, and
requests the UN Secretary General to report to the next HRC session
on the implementation of the Goldstone report. The resolution does
not address Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, despite Justice
Goldstone's stated disappointment about the failure of the
resolution to address rocket attacks by Palestinian groups.

Not a Bad Voting Outcome Compared with the Recent Past
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (SBU) Recent resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories
have passed by higher margins. For example, the resolution that
called for the creation of the Fact Finding Mission passed by a vote
of 33 in favor, 1 against (Canada) and 13 abstentions. Moreover,
Canada was the lone "no " vote on five of the last seven
Israel-related voted resolutions in regular sessions and the only
"no " vote on the last two Israel-related special session
resolutions. The results of this most recent special session
indicate, among other things, U.S. success in lobbying in Geneva and
capitals to secure votes against the resolution and abstentions.

National Positions

5. (U) During general debate, many countries, across different
regions, expressed regret that the Special Session was called, mere
weeks after the matter was deferred during the 12th regular session,
depriving the Council of time to digest the 575 page report and seek
a consensus resolution. Still, member states from the Arab Group to
the EU acknowledged the urgent need to address impunity and promote
accountability, and urged both Israel and authorities in Gaza to
conduct investigations. Member states from the Arab Group and the
OIC, and NGOs from those regions, expressed doubt that Israel would
conduct serious investigations that would bring justice to the
victims of the Gaza conflict. Many, including several European
states, expressed regret that Israel had chosen not to cooperate
with Goldstone's mission. Other general themes included
condemnation of the Gaza blockade, home demolitions and expanding
settlements, and excavations near the Al-Aqsa mosque.

6. (U) The main sponsors of the resolution justified the Special
Session, saying that although the deferral was intended to give time
to consult within the Council, Israel responded with even more human
rights violations in East Jerusalem. The deferral, which was made

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in good faith, was "perceived as a sign of weakness." In his
statement to the Council, Israeli Ambassador Ronny Yaar stated that
the session "had nothing to do with human rights." He questioned
the credibility of a Council which would politicize the issue in
this way. Egypt and its friendly delegations indicated that it was
not the Special Session, but rather the Council's unwillingness to
hold Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza which represented
politicization, saying: "The credibility of the Council is being
tested. Will it uphold the rights of victims or let political
considerations get in the way? "

7. (SBU) The main sponsors did not incorporate any significant
changes from other members. Russia expressed disappointment at the
lack of flexibility and consultation. Brazil and Chile, despite
failing to achieve any of their requested changes, voted yes with an
explanation of position iterating their interpretation of what the
resolution intended. The sponsors' hard line on language, along
with heavy lobbying from the USG, helped influence dynamics within
the EU, allowing the EU "nays " to remain firm, preventing a common
EU abstention. The most polemic comments from the general debate
section came from Kuwait, earning a protest from Israel. Australia
gave an unexpectedly weak statement expressing reticence about the
special session "at this time."


8. (SBU) The Goldstone report will now be forwarded to the General
Assembly for consideration and we will face another resolution in
the March HRC session in Geneva. As the first official UN
resolution dealing with the Goldstone report, the recent Special
Session outcome could set the tone for future discussions of the
matter. One argument in favor of a more measured approach to the
report is that the resolution passed by a less robust majority than
recent Israel resolutions -- only 25 of the 47 members supported the
resolution and there were "no's " and abstentions from a
cross-regional group of states. Maintaining that broad coalition of
skeptics could encourage a more realistic review of the report and
its content. One of the sticking points for delegations was the
wholesale endorsement of the recommendations. That said, we expect
continued calls for the parties (and certain international bodies)
to implement the recommendations in the report. Absent any action,
we should be prepared to see considerable weakening of the positions
of those delegations that did not vote in favor of the resolution.
The next few months will be key to building a cohesive strategy and
group of supporters in favor of our preferred outcome. End comment.


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