In a damage control exercise, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has backed a discussion in the United Nations Security Council on a report by an international panel which mostly accused Israel of war crimes during its winter incursion of Gaza.
Senior PA politician Yasser Abed Rabbo acknowledged that his government’s earlier decision to seek a deferral of the debate to next March was a mistake.
“We must say a mistake has been made. This mistake should not be underestimated or concealed,” he said in a radio interview.
The reversal of the decision has come following an outcry among Palestinians, who targeted the PA President Mahmoud Abbas for seeking the deferral. Hamas, the powerful rival to Mr. Abbas’ Fatah, had called the PA’s decision “shameful and irresponsible”. Posters appeared in Gaza calling Mr. Abbas a “traitor” and for consigning him “to the trash heap of history”.
The debate is now set for next week following intervention by Libya, the sole Arab member currently in the Council, which was supported by the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the non-aligned group. “We are going to have an open debate. The Foreign Minister of Palestine will participate,” Libyan Ambassador to the U.N. Abdurrahman Shalgham said. He noted the purpose of the debate was “to keep the momentum regarding this report”.
The U.N. panel headed by an eminent South African judge accused Israel of war crimes, based on recordings of several incidents of alleged Israeli military misconduct during the 22-day war which ended in January. Hamas was also accused of war crimes, but the bulk of the report highlighted allegations of gross Israeli rights violations during its military campaign. The report has recommended that its findings should be forwarded to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in case either side to the conflict failed to prosecute suspects, based on its own investigations.