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Cablegate: Unga Passes Controversial Resolution Supporting

VZCZCXRO3802
OO RUEHIK
DE RUCNDT #1008/01 3132145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 092145Z NOV 09
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7564
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXX/GENEVA IO MISSIONS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZJ/HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 USUN NEW YORK 001008

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM UN UNGA IS
SUBJECT: UNGA PASSES CONTROVERSIAL RESOLUTION SUPPORTING
GOLDSTONE REPORT 118 FOR, 18 AGAINST, 44 ABSTAINING

REF: SECSTATE 115531

USUN NEW Y 00001008 001.2 OF 005


1. (U) SUMMARY: The UN General Assembly met in plenary on
November 4th and 5th to discuss the Report of the Human
Rights Council (HRC) on the report on the UN fact-finding
mission on the Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report). A draft
resolution endorsing the report passed with 118 for, 18
against, and 44 abstentions. The U.S. delivered an
explanation of vote affirming the importance of
accountability and human rights, but noting the one-sided
nature of the Goldstone Report and that UNGA is not the
appropriate forum for follow up. The vast majority of
speakers condemned Israel's military actions in Gaza, many
using the terms "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" to
describe the events. Libya's comments were particularly
vitriolic, claiming that Israel is a state built on "ethnic
cleansing" and "genocide." Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela
criticized the U.S. for its support of Israel, with Venezuela
blaming the U.S. for endorsing genocide. Judge Goldstone was
praised for performing his mission with objectivity. Many
countries that voted no or abstained explained their vote by
saying that the report and process are biased and that the
matter ought to have been discussed in the Human Rights
Council. Some countries called on both the Israelis and
Palestinians to follow up with independent and transparent
investigations. The Palestine Observer promised to continue
to pursue the matter, including in the Security Council,
until all of the Israelis committing war crimes can be held
accountable for their actions. END SUMMARY

2. (U) SPEAKERS LIST: The following delegations delivered
interventions: Egypt, Palestine, Senegal, Sweden, Syria,
Israel, Sudan, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Vietnam, Bahrain, UAE,
Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, India,Liechtenstein, Japan, Algeria,
Switzerland, Indonesia, Brazil, Jordan, Cuba, Ecuador, Qatar,
Norway, Nicaragua, Djibouti, South Africa, Tunisia, Kuwait,
China, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Mexico, Mauritania,
Malaysia, Pakistan, Maldives, Venezuela, and the Observer of
the Arab League. The following countries delivered
explanations of vote: the United States, Israel, Argentina,
the Philippines, Albania, Norway, Russian, Syria, Mexico,
Chile, Guatemala, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Netherlands,
Brazil, Columbia, New Zealand, Iran,India, Costa Rica,
Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Panama, Uruguay, Benin, Ireland,
and Palestine.

3. (U) PRESIDENT OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY TREKI CALLS FOR UNITY:
President of the General Assembly Ali Trekki opened the
session, declaring that "for the sake of human rights, let us
stand united." Assessing the Goldstone report, he noted that
it "documents serious violations of human rights" for the
people of Gaza. He called on delegations to leave politics at
the door and take up the issue based on one set of rules. He
said that religion, race, and other factors should not
matter, and "the question before us is simple despite the
political sensibilities associated with it."

4. (U) EGYPT/NON-ALLIGNED MOVEMENT: Egypt, speaking on behalf
of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), introduced the resolution
and said it is seeking to "ensure accountability for all
breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights
law." Egypt called on the GA to "demonstrate its unequivocal
support for human rights and the protection of civilians on
both the Palestinian and Israeli sides." Egypt called on
Israel to launch an investigation into the serious
violations, and condemned the "targeting of civilians and
civilian infrastructure" and those violations "committed by
Israel, the occupying power, against the defenseless
Palestinians civilian population."

5. (U) PALESTINIAN OBSERVER ACCUSES ISRAEL OF WAR CRIMES AND
URGES DELEGATES TO TAKE ACTION: Palestinian Permanent
Observer Riyad Mansour, affirmed the Goldstone Report and
noted that it "constitutes a significant step towards ending
the insidious culture of impunity" and will help to ensure
"justice for the Palestinian people, who have for too long
suffered the grave injustice inflicted upon them." Mansour
said that only Israel "denies the right to self-determination
and human rights of our people." He said this is a test of
the international community to address the "illegal practices
of the Israeli occupation, the last and longest in modern
history." Mansour blamed Israel for causing "thousands of
deaths and injuries among the civilian population, including
among children and women, and wanton destruction of homes,
vital civilian infrastructure, public institutions,
industrial and agricultural properties and UN facilities."

USUN NEW Y 00001008 002.2 OF 005


He said Israel engaged in "the willful killing of civilians"
amounting to "human rights violations and grave breaches of
international humanitarian law and war crimes." Mansour
called for action, asking member states to work "individually
and collectively, with the utmost urgency" and warning that
"unchecked impunity and the absence of justice will only
continue to obstruct peace efforts and prolong this tragic,
painful conflict."

6. (U) ISRAEL CALLS REPORT BIASED AND REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO
FIGHT TERRORISM: Israel's Permanent Representative Ambassador
Gabriela Shalev began by expressing grief for innocent
civilians killed in terrorist attacks in Baghdad, Peshawar,
New York, and nearly twenty other locations, listing each one
by name. She criticized the Human Rights Council for not
investigating the more than 12,000 rockets fired by Hamas
into Israel and called the report's objectivity into
question, claiming that "Goldstone himself publicly conceded
that if his fact-finding mission had been a judicial inquiry,
a member of his team would have been disqualified for
outright bias against Israel." According to Shalev, the
evidence for the accusations in the Goldstone report is "at
best uncorroborated, and at worst false." Shalev assured the
audience that Israel is "committed to investigating every
allegation of misconduct by its forces." She reaffirmed
Israel,s commitment to "two states for two peoples," but
reminded delegates that to reach this goal, Israel "must know
that terrorists will not have impunity as they turn our
gestures of peace into weapons of war."

7. (U) HARSH CRITICISM AND MUTED SUPPORT FOR U.S. ROLE:
Venezuela said that the "financial and military resources
provided by the United States to the Government of Israel, as
well as its protection in international forums endorse the
genocide of the Palestinian people." Cuba said that Israel
is able to "continue to enjoy impunity" only thanks to the
support of the "superpower" and implied that the U.S.
supports occupation by providing weapons to Israel. Nicaragua
said the U.S. relationship with Israel is responsible for
much of the ongoing violence in the Middle East. Morocco cast
the U.S. role in a more positive light, commending President
Obama's efforts on the peace process.

8. (U) SYRIA AND OIC - ISRAEL ONLY SEES ONE TARGERT:
CIVILIANS: Syria, speaking on behalf of the Organization of
the Islamic Conference (OIC), claimed that "all independent
reporting pointed to serious violations of human rights and
international law" and "confirmed the international
community's worst fears of war crimes." Syria blamed Israel
for its refusal to cooperate with 23 fact-finding missions
and claimed that Israeli tanks and battleships "could see
only one target on their radar screens: civilians." Syria
commented that the "OIC has repeatedly cautioned that Israeli
measures undermine the unity and integrity of the Palestinian
people."

9. (U) IRAN ACCUSES ISRAEL OF ATTACKING CIVILIANS, CALLS FOR
ACCOUNTABILITY: Iran drew on the Goldstone report to accuse
Israel of using white phosphorus, placing Palestinians as
human shields, using flechette munitions against civilians,
targeting mosques, and committing other attacks on civilian
objects as well as indiscriminate attacks. Iran claimed that
the Israeli attacks were a violation of the "fundamental
provisions of international humanitarian law" and that the
military actions along with the "longtime blockade on the
Gaza population" violated blatantly and grossly every human
right of the Palestinian people." Iran called upon the
General Assembly to take "measures with regard to ensuring
accountability for serious violations of international
humanitarian law and human rights."

10. (U) LIBYA BLAMES ARABS FOR NON-AGGRESSION, CONDEMS ARAB
PEACE PLAN, SAYS ISRAEL IS FOUNDED ON GENOCIDE: Libya
declared that Israel is a state "based on genocide and ethnic
cleansing." Libya claimed that "the Zionists disregard the
opinion of the international community" and that "Zionist
crimes in Palestine began with the first Zionist settlers."
Libya asserted that the "Israeli system is based on
segregation so that when Palestinians seek redress through
it, they will be dissatisfied." With respect to the
Goldstone Report, Libya called it "neutral" and claimed that
it "reflects all the facts." Libya urged the General
Assembly to take a stand, because if resolutions are not
implemented, "Israel is above the law" and the motto that
"strong states are never held accountable" then ought to be
included in the charter of the UN. Libya rejected the Arab

USUN NEW Y 00001008 003.2 OF 005


Peace Plan and said that the Arab countries are guaranteeing
Israel's security if they "will no longer fight" against
Israel.

11. (U) MANY COUNTRIES PRAISE JUDGE GOLDSTONE AND HIS REPORT,
LEBANON NOTING THAT GOLDSTONE BEING JEWISH ADDS TO ITS
OBJECTIVITY: Lebanon implied that Goldstone's report is even
more reputable since his daughter has called him a "Zionist
who loves Israel." Lebanon said Goldstone is "biased, for one
thing and one thing only: the truth." Djibouti contended that
"in a rare display of balance, the report assesses blame on
both Israel and Palestine." Kuwait said that the media
attention shows how much damage the report has done and
suggested this would help solve the problem of "Israel
obscuring facts from the media and concealing evidence."
Switzerland referred to the report as an objective reading of
events and called the report very credible." South Africa
co-sponsored the resolution and reiterated "its full
confidence in Justice Goldstone. Saudi Arabia said Goldstone"
closely saw the results of the destruction that resulted from
the Israeli aggression against Gaza."

12. (U) WIDE CONDEMNATION FOR ISRAELI ACTIONS IN GAZA,
FOCUSED ON CIVILIANS: Senegal, speaking as Chair of the
Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People, agreed with the assessment that the "Israeli military
operation was aimed at the people of Gaza as a whole" and
accused Israel of totally disregarding responsibility under
international law. Sudan blamed Israel for attacking
hospitals. Bahrain criticized Israel for attacking
facilities, noting that even "UNRWA schools did not escape
these acts of aggression." Lebanon blamed Israel for
humiliating the Palestinian people and failing to
differentiate between civilians and soldiers. Indonesia
stated that the "Israeli offensive was a deliberate assault
aimed at punishing, humiliating and terrorizing a civilian
population, and radically diminishing its local economic
capacity." South Africa highlighted a litany of Israeli
actions in Gaza including the bulldozing of huge tracks of
agricultural land, bombing of two hundred industrial
facilities and destruction of Palestinian infrastructure that
led to "the massive loss of innocent lives." Many countries
condemned Israel for destroying Gaza's only flour mill during
the operation. Malaysia said that "this military operation is
not an aberration. Rather, it fits into a continuum of
policies." Mauritania pointed to one incident at a school
and accused the Israelis of launching a "deliberate attack
that targets children."

13. (U) CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY, AN END TO ISRAELI IMPUNITY,
AND PUNISHMENT: Many member states called for preventing
"impunity" and ensuring accountability. Algeria noted that it
condemns "the continued impunity of Israel." Switzerland said
it is up to the international community to ensure that
violations do not go unpunished. Oman said that the
"international community should have a firm stance against
Israeli war crimes and should compensate the victims." The
UAE stated its belief that the "violations are sufficient to
legally convict Israel of committing war crimes and crimes
against humanity in Gaza, which are punishable under
international law." Switzerland believes the next step is for
the "parties to the conflict to conduct their own independent
inquiries," but failing this it is "up to the international
community to ensure that these violations do not go
unpunished." Brazil also called for accountability, that at
this time should be "implemented primarily by the concerned
parties." Senegal stated that some of the documented Israeli
actions "should be prosecuted as war crimes."

14. (U) MANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT EAST JERUSALEM, HOME
DEMOLITIONS, AND SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY: Numerous countries
used the forum to discuss concerns other than Gaza. Jordan
urged Israel to desist from sensitive excavations, building
the partition wall, and destruction of homes, noting that
these actions are likely to lead to even more violence.
Qatar called for an end to settlement expansion in the West
Bank, including East Jerusalem and for a cessation of "acts
of terrorism" committed by "Israeli authorities, such as the
closure and siege of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, preventing access of
worshippers to prayer, and the threat of use of force."
Tunisia reiterated the need for Israel to renounce its
settlement policy. The Arab League accused Israel of
"attempts to bring down Al-Aqsa mosque" through its
excavation and tunnel-building activity. Saudi Arabia
suggested that Israel's actions, particularly with respect to
settlements and in Jerusalem, are placing "facts on the

USUN NEW Y 00001008 004.2 OF 005


ground."

15. (U) NUMEROUS COUNTRIES EXPRESS DEGREES OF SUPPORT FOR
ISRAELI POSITION: The E.U. urged a "complete stop to all
violence, including a sustained halt of rocket attacks at
Israel" and also called for the release of Israeli soldier
Gilad Shalit. Senegal concurred with calls to release
Shalit. Lichtenstein noted that "we are facing a level of
selectivity" in the choice of countries and regions on which
to focus investigations. Morocco provided a nuanced view in
its strong criticism of Israel actions, noting that there is
a "need to understand the feeling of being victimized by both
parties." Japan recognized the "serious violations of
international humanitarian law and human rights law by both
Israel and the Palestinians" and called on both sides to take
steps to address the report. Norway said that the report
shows that "both Israel and Palestinian groups may have been
responsible for grave violations of international human
rights." China "understands the security concerns of Israel,
and is equally saddened by the civilian casualties of
Israel." Iceland commented that it fully "recognizes
Israel's legitimate security concerns, including over weapons
smuggling."

16. (U) NEXT STEPS: INVESTIGATIONS AND RETURNING TO
NEGOTIATIONS: Despite differences of opinion on the Goldstone
report, nearly every speaker emphasized that the only road
forward is a resumption of negotiations towards a two-state
solution. Saudi Arabia reiterated that "the Arab Peace
Initiative is still on the table." Mexico suggested "both the
Israeli government and the Palestinian factions should form
an inquiry mechanism." Bangladesh joined others in asking
Israel to take immediate steps aimed at easing the living
conditions for those in Gaza and urging it to "lift its
embargo against Palestinians and immediately open all border
crossings to allow for the free movement of goods, persons
and humanitarian aid."

17. (U) PRIOR TO VOTE ISRAEL REQUESTS DEFINITIONS OF
PALESTINIAN ENTITY: Israel asked for a point of clarification
prior to the start of the vote. Israel requested
clarification of operative paragraph four of the draft
resolution, which called on "the Palestinian side" to make an
independent investigation into the violations reported by the
Goldstone Report. Israel asked if "Palestinian side" referred
to the Palestinian Authority that had been ousted from Gaza
in a coup or the "Hamas terrorist organization that tries to
derail the peace process." Egypt, replying on behalf of the
co-sponsors, noted that the "Palestinian Authority itself
declared that they will conduct their own investigation, and
Hamas, considered terrorists by Israel, but legitimately
elected, has already expressed a willingness to cooperate."
Egypt said it would be very happy if Israel could be equally
cooperative.

18. (U) RESOLUTION ADOPTED 118-18-44: Draft resolution
A/64/L.1, endorsing the Goldstone Report, passed with 114 in
favor, 18 against and 44 abstaining. In addition to the
United States, the following countries voted against the
resolution: Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany,
Hungary, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, the Marshall Islands,
Micronesia, Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland,
Slovakia and Ukraine. The draft resolution can be found
online at:
http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N09/59 0/30/PDF/N0959030.PDF?
OpenElment

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE
_____________________

19. (U) U.S. EXPLANATION OF VOTE: Ambassador Wolff delivered
the US explanation of vote prior to the vote itself per
reftel.

20. (U) ISRAEL: Israel said that "this draft resolution mocks
the reality" of democratic countries facing terrorism. Israel
said that the Human Rights Commission continues to engage in
"politicized work that bends both fact and law." Albania (Y)
said that "this resolution is not and should not be seen as a
condemnation of anyone."

21. (U) PALESTINIANS: The Palestinian Observer thanked those
that voted for the resolution and those that abstained. He
said that abstentions count as support for the resolution
because abstentions just reflect procedural concerns with the
process. The Palestinians plan to revisit the idea of

USUN NEW Y 00001008 005.2 OF 005


establishing a compensation fund with the UN High Commission
for Human Rights and will continue with this process until
the Israelis "who committed war crimes against the
Palestinian people are brought to justice." The Palestinians
Observer also noted plans to follow up with Geneva on
convening the high contracting parties and would continue to
pursue Security Council action. Palestinians will "never
accepts comparisons between occupier and victims," he said,
and declared "international law is on our side."

22. (U) EOVS BY SUPPORTERS OF THE RESOLUTION: Although
Albania voted yes, it said that "this resolution is not and
should not be seen as a condemnation of anyone." Syria
chastised the states that voted against or abstained from the
resolution. Mexico "would have preferred different language,"
and stressed the importance of accountability, but said it
does not agree with all the recommendations contained with
the report. Chile said the HRC should play a role in
monitoring compliance with the resolution. Brazil said that
the crimes noted in the Goldstone Report should be fully
investigated to prevent impunity and that other UN bodies
should be involved. Iran warned countries against placing
Israeli and Palestinian actions on the same footing. Ireland
noted that its support for the work of Judge Goldstone moved
it to vote for the resolution, but that does not mean that
they it supports each and every element of the report.

23. (U) EOVS BY OTHERS: Norway (A) said investigations should
remain independent and impartial and cautioned against
"turning an existential question into a highly political
debate." Russia (A) noted that the Goldstone report included
"some conclusions that we could agree with" but others that
needed work and debate should have remained in the HRC.
Australia (N) called on both parties to inform the UN of the
results of their investigations. Canada (N) said the report
"preemptively presumed Israel's accountability." The
Netherlands (N) said that "the resolution will not be
conducive to re-launching Middle East peace talks." Costa
Rica (A) would like to have seen a follow-up mechanism for
the resolution. Panama (N) has "serious concerns about the
language used" and while stressing accountability, believes
that the report prejudged the outcome. Uruguay (A) asked the
GA not to politicize the topic and called for an
investigation of serious allegations.
Rice

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