(updated 19 March 2010)
The Goldstone report has generated a lot of controversy. Sadly this is due more to paranoia, misinformation and disinformation than the actual contents of the report. This controversy is part-and–parcel of the information wars that is characteristic of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
REPORTS ON THE GAZA WAR eg Israel's July 2009 and January 2010 response - Google document
1. Who is Richard Goldstone?
A Jewish South African who has served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda; member of the Independent Inquiry Committee, chaired by Paul Volcker, to investigate the Iraq Oil for Food scandal; was a member of the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina; chairperson of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo ; worked on the on the South African truth and reconciliation commission, and was a former South African Constitutional Court Judge.
Richard Goldstone has repeatedly spoken of Israel’s right to self defence and has demonstrated a sustained commitment to Israel’s well-being. The difference is that Goldstone asserts that parties use force in a proportional manner i.e the military means are proportional to a military gain sought; and that the military action used is not punitive; such as evidence by collective punishment.
Goldstone is a director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Institute for Transitional Justice and Reconciliation and Physicians for Human Rights, and he is on the advisory board of the Project on Justice in Times of Transition. For many years he has served as a governor of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
2. What is the Goldstone Report?
The Goldstone Report is officially known as the UN Fact-Finding Mission into Gaza.
The following are links to the report from various sources:
The Goldstone report submitted to the Human Rights Council (25 September 2009). Initially this was not voted on.
The Goldstone report as endorsed by the Human Rights Council. Human Rights Council, Twelfth special session; 15 and 16 October 2009, A/HRC/S-12/1, 21 October 2009.
2.1 What has Richard Goldstone said about the report?
(as opposed to other people’s distortions of the report who have not even read it…)
[Video] A debate by Richard Goldstone’s at Brandeis University
The Challenge of the U.N. Gaza Report, Levin Ballroom, Schusterman Center For Israel Studies, Brandeis University, November 5, 2009.
[Transcript] A conference call with Judge Goldstone
Tikkun Interview with Judge Goldstone
Statement by Justice Richard Goldstone on behalf of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, delivered to the Human Rights Council, 29 September 2009
Richard Goldstone talks to Al Jazeera, 15 September 2009
3. Who wrote the mandate of the Goldstone report?
Richard Goldstone wrote the mandate for the UN Fact-Finding mission into Gaza. Goldstone like Mary Robinson both rejected the initial mandate they were offered by the UN Human Rights Council. However, Goldstone was given the opportunity by the Nigerian president of the Council to lead the mission if he would write his own mandate. It was the basis of what Goldstone wrote that he led the team into the investigation.
3 April 2009 – Richard Goldstone appointed to lead the team
4. Did the Goldstone Report consider the rocket attacks on Israel?
Yes. Chapter 24 of the report (Part 3) looked at the impact on civilians of rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups on southern Israel (pp. 1594-1691).
1. Impact on civilians of rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian
armed groups on southern Israel (p. 31 Executive summary)
103. Palestinian armed groups have launched about 8000 rockets and mortars into southern Israel since 2001 (chap. XXIV). While communities such as Sderot and Nir Am kibbutz have been within the range of rocket and mortar fire since the beginning, the range of rocket fire increased to nearly 40 kilometres from the Gaza border, encompassing towns as far north as
Ashdod, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza.
104. Between 18 June 2008 and 18 January 2009, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have killed three civilians inside Israel and two civilians in Gaza when a rocket landed short of the border on 26 December 2008. Reportedly, over 1000 civilians inside Israel were
physically injured as a result of rocket and mortar attacks, 918 of whom were injured during the time of the Israeli military operations in Gaza.
105. The Mission has taken particular note of the high level of psychological trauma suffered by the civilian population inside Israel. Data gathered by an Israeli organization in October 2007 found that 28.4 per cent of adults and 72–94 per cent of children in Sderot suffered from posttraumatic
stress disorder. During the military operations in Gaza 1596 people were reportedly treated for stress-related injuries while afterwards over 500 people were treated.
106. Rockets and mortars have damaged houses, schools and cars in southern Israel. On 5 March 2009, a rocket struck a synagogue in Netivot. The rocket and mortar fire has adversely affected the right to education of children and adults living in southern Israel. This is a result of
school closures and interruptions to classes by alerts and moving to shelters…
5. Other excerpts of the report
Richard Goldstone, 29 September 2009
"In Chapter XI of the Report, for example we detail a number of specific incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal consequences. These were, with only one exception, where the facts establish that there was no military objective or advantage that could justify the attacks...
The Mission found that the attack on the only remaining flour producing factory, the destruction of a large part of the Gaza egg production, the bulldozing of huge tracts of agricultural land, and the bombing of some two hundred industrial facilities, could not on any basis be justified on military grounds. Those attacks had nothing whatever to do with the firing of rockets and mortars at Israel.
..People of the region should not be demonized. Rather their common humanity should be emphasized.
It is for this reason that the Mission came to the conclusion that it is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many."
6. What were the conclusions of the Goldstone Report?
Both Israel and Hamas had committed possible war crimes during the conflict.
7. What were the recommendations of the Goldstone report?
(i) Accountability for serious violations of International Humanitarian Law
(iii) Serious violations of human rights law
(iv) The blockade and reconstruction
(v) The use of weapons and military procedures
(vi)The protection of human rights organizations and defenders and
(vii) Follow up to the Mission’s recommendations.
8. What is ironic about the Australian Government’s call that the report is biased?
Why does it only take 19 pages of evidence to establish a prima facie case for Palestinians to initiate investigations into a breach of international law while it takes 262 pages of evidence (i.e 13 times as much) to establish a prima-facie case for Israel to set up similar investigations?
The Australian Government calls the Goldstone repot biased in favour of Palestinians. What is ironic about this is as follows. The Fact-Finding commission was designed to establish enough evidence to give a prima-facie case for both Israel and the Palestinian governing body of Gaza to set up investigations into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In order to do this the Report establishes in Part Two grounds for Israel setting up investigations. 262 pages were compiled to establish a prima-facie case for Israel to instigate allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. And yet it only took 19 pages of evidence [Part 3: pp 346-365] to establish a prima facie case for Palestinians to also set up investigations into breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The question could also be asked why does it only take 19 pages of evidence to establish grounds for Palestinians to conduct breaches while it takes 262 pages of evidence (i.e 13 times as much) to establish a prima-facie case for Israel to set up investigations?
9. When did the UN Human Rights Council consider the report?
The Human Rights Council considered the Goldstone report during its twelfth special session, on 15 and 16 October 2009. The report was passed by a majority in resolution S/12-1 (see below). To complicate matters the resolution that was passed included a statement on the situation in East Jerusalem and the siege of Gaza. The section of the resolution devoted to the Goldstone Report was as follows:
The Human Rights Council resolution included:
Endorses the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, and calls upon all concerned parties including United Nations bodies, to ensure their implementation in accordance with their respective mandates; …
4. Recommends that the General Assembly consider the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, during the main part of its sixty-fourth session;
Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council, S-12/1. The human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, Human Rights Council, Twelfth special session, A/HRC/RES/S-12/1, 16 October 2009
[Adopted by a recorded vote of 25 to 6, with 11 abstentions. The voting was as follows:
In favour: Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian
Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia;
Against: Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, United States of America;
Abstaining: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Uruguay.]
In general I am in agreement with the resolution. However, I am concerned that both Egypt and Israel should have been cited as restricting access to goods, services and population transfer and not limiting this to Israel.
My personal experience of Egypt’s complicity in the siege was through a close friend’s brother who is a Palestinian Australian. Both the brother (Eyad) and his European Australian wife and children were held up for weeks by the Egyptian authorities firstly when the family wanted to enter Gaza and secondly when they wanted to leave Gaza. They felt they were treated like criminals.
10. What was the United National General Assembly opinion of the report?
The draft resolution on follow-up to the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (document A/64/L.11) was adopted by a recorded vote of 114 in favour to 18 against, with 44 abstentions, [with 16 absences. That is of the 176 nations who voted; 65% for, 10% against and 25% abstained. In addition to this there were 16 nations absent from the vote. This gives a total of 192 nations in the United Nations.
This means the General Assembly were giving Israel and relevant Palestinian judicial bodies three months to undertake “independent, credible investigations” into serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the conflict in Gaza that broke in late December 2008.
General Assembly, Press release, GA/10883, 5 November 2009
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United States.
Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland [which spoke for the Goldstone report in the General Assembly], Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation [which had voted for the resolution in the Human Rights Council], Samoa, San Marino, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay.
Absent: Bhutan, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
[**Solomon Is] The Australian newspaper reported that Israel sent a Foreign Affairs official to the Solomon Islands to speak about why the Solomon Islands voted in favour of the Goldstone Report meant. All other Pacific nations either voted against the report or absented themselves from the vote.
Rowan Callick, Israel wants answers from Solomon Islands over UN vote, November 12, 2009
Countries statements in favour of the Report
Iceland said the Fact Finding Mission’s Report deserved serious consideration and follow-up, and its conclusions required concrete action, including the creation of a credible system of investigation into the alleged violations. [despite this Iceland abstained in the vote].
Switzerland said he was in favour of the resolution for four main reasons. First, the nature of the conclusions required monitoring by the international community; second, combating impunity was a crucial precondition for sustainable peace; third, the resolution called for both parties to carry out a balanced investigation, putting them at the fore of such measures; and finally, it had called for actions to convene high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.
Ireland said his delegation supported the resolution because it supported the Fact Finding Mission and its Report. That Report was a serious contribution to understanding what had taken place in Gaza and southern Israel at the beginning of the year. Ireland supported the efforts so that the tragedy would not be repeated. That did not mean that it supported all the recommendations in the Report. It was not appropriate for the Assembly to be requested to endorse the entirety of the Report at this time. The document was very complex and covered many areas. It had far-reaching implications and time was needed to consider it in order to agree on the best way forward.
11. What was the United States decision on the Goldstone report?
The US House of representatives passed H Res 867 on the 3 November 2009; 344-36, 52 not voting (2/3 required). T title of the bill passeed read: Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora.
11.1 Who was the sponsor of the original bill (HRes 867)?
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen U.S. Representative, Florida’s 18th District; with cosponsors (114)
Text of H. Res. 867: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hr111-867
11.2 Who did not support HRes 867?
American Peace Now do not support H Res 867
Why did Richard Goldstone not support HRes 867?
Because it was factually incorrect.
See Goldstone’s letter cited in Magnes Zionist
12. What was Australia’s decision of the Goldstone report?
12.1 General Assembly vote
“Australia had voted against the resolution on the Goldstone Report because of its flawed content.”
General Assembly, Press release, GA/10883, 5 November 2009
12.2 Stephen Smith in Parliament
House Hansard, Matters of Public Importance, Australia’s Foreign Relations, Thursday, 19 November 2009, Page: 60
The SPEAKER —I have received a letter from the honourable the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The government’s failure to properly manage Australia’s foreign relations.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places….
Julie Bishop: What about Israel?
Mr STEPHEN SMITH — …Let me deal finally with the Middle East. The government has changed three votes before the General Assembly—
…[Why? Asked Julie Bishop] They were on settlements, reflecting precisely the same view as the United States administration; on the Geneva conventions applying to the occupied territories—and how would Australia have looked in the terrible Gaza conflict last December and January if we had not adhered to the application of the Geneva conventions?; and, thirdly, on the right of self-determination of the Palestinians. …When you look at who votes in those matters, at the strong stand that Australia takes defending Israel’s interests on the Goldstone report and at the strong stand that Australia took in the Durban II review, we are in very good company because our approach to these matters is a two-nation-state solution and to support the peace process.
12.3 Mr Danby in Parliament
House Hansard,Main Committee, ADJOURNMENT, Goldstone Commission, Thursday, 17 September 2009 Page: 10041
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (12:43 PM) —“The Goldstone» commission, which has just reported in Geneva, probably will not be discussed much by this parliament, reflecting its lack of credibility and the fact that the Australian government, I am sure, does not take it seriously… And unfortunately, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution seeking a fact-finding mission to only look at what Israel had done …But you must look at what preceded the Israel army’s action in Gaza. The 8,000 rockets that landed on Israeli southern cities would be the subject as well of any investigation by a genuine humanitarian—any fair-minded person, any fair-minded United Nations organisation.”
12.4 Jenny Bloomfield, Director Middle East & North Africa, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27 November 2009 (letter to Stewart Mills)
“On 5 November in the UN General Assembly Australia voted against the Goldstone Resolution because of a number of genuine concerns arising from the language of the text. Australia strongly shared the concerns expressed by some of the delegations on the lack of balance, scope and recommendations in the report. These included: an unbalanced focus on Israel; and insufficient attention to Hamas’s actions prior to the conflict, especially rocket attacks. Australia also made it clear its preference that consideration of the Goldstone Report remain within the Human Rights Commission to allow the parties time to pursue their investigations.”
12.5. Statement by H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Australian Mission to the General Assembly on the follow up resolution on the Goldstone Report, delivered on 26 February 2010.
"We voted against Resolution 64/10 last November because of a number of concerns arising from the language of that text and the flawed nature of the Goldstone Report that the resolution was based on.
We have decided to abstain on today’s resolution because we recognise that it reflects genuine efforts to overcome differences, and because it concentrates on the need for the investigations arising from the Gaza conflict which are essential.
Our vote on today’s resolution, however, does not change the continuing concerns we hold about the lack of balance in, the scope of, and the recommendations of the Goldstone Report. Nor our strong preference that the parties be allowed sufficient time to pursue their own investigations."
13. What are some examples of the reporting of the Goldstone Report in Australia?
Peter Hartcher, Israel feels tarnished as critics apply apartheid tag, 17 November, 2009.
Here is one response to this piece
Stewart Mills, Context would give a more balanced view, Letters, SMH, 18 November, 2009
Stewart Mills, Rights for all not just some, Letters, The Australian, 26 November 2009
14. What is happening to the Goldstone Report now?
The Goldstone report will be sent to the UN Security Council.
The response by the UN Secretary General.
Highlights of the Noon Briefing, 5 February 2010
Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General, A64/651, 4 February 2010 - Including a response by Israel in Annex 1.
Greg Sheridan, Arabs to block Canberra's UN push, 2 February 2010
Decisive steps needed towards Middle East peace or ‘we risk sliding backwards,’, SC/9854, 6265th Meeting (AM & PM), 27 January 2010
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing, Daily press briefing by the offices of the spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 5 February 2010
The Secretary-General has now issued his report following up on General Assembly resolution 64/10 of 4 November 2009.
His report contains inputs received from the Israeli and Palestinian sides on the efforts which they have undertaken so far to investigate allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the Gaza conflict. It also contains a summary of the consultations conducted by the Government of Switzerland regarding the reconvening of a conference of the High Contracting Parties.
In all cases, it is clear that the processes which have been initiated are still ongoing. As such, no determination can be made on the implementation of the resolution. As he states in the report, the Secretary-General believes that international humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and civilians must be protected in all situations and circumstances. It is his hope that resolution 64/10 has served to encourage investigations by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards.
**Goldstone – Clarification
And one thing I would like to point out; please note that in the document submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the Goldstone report, only the first three pages are written by the Secretary-General and the Secretariat. The remainder of the document ‑‑ that’s the other 69 pages ‑‑ consists of annexes containing information provided, respectively, by the Government of Israel, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.
PHILIP WEISS, At Yale, Judge Goldstone faces down his accusers, 28 January 2010
UN Department of Public Information, GA/10917, 26 February 2010
General Assembly Requests Secretary-General to Submit Further Report on Investigations into violations during the Gaza Conflict. General Assembly GA/10917
Resolution Adopted by recorded vote of 98 in favour, 7 against, 31 abstentions [and 56 absent nations]
Thise in favour include the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand.
Reasons - GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said he had voted against resolution 64/10 last November because of reservations about the text and the flawed nature of the Goldstone Report. He had abstained from voting on today’s vote resolution, which pointed to genuine efforts. While Australia’s vote did not change its concerns about the Goldstone Report, or its preference for allowing the parties sufficient time to study the investigations, it was not helpful to drive them apart. Now was not the time to convene a Conference of the High Contracting Parties as doing so would involve a counter-productive political debate, he said, adding that the prevailing political situation was neither acceptable nor in the interests of Israel, the Palestinian Authority or its neighbours."
The draft resolution on the Follow-up to the report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (document A/64/L.48) was adopted by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 7 against, with 31 abstentions.
Abstaining is better than nothing; but still a blight on our voting record.
Journal of the United Nations:
United Nations Webcast:
United Nations Press Releases:
What was the General Assembly Resolution
2 November 2009
Agenda item 64
Report of the Human Rights Council
There is an embargo on obtaining this resolution from UNDOCs [eg as of 16 Decmber 2009]. However, this resolution is found on UNISPAL.
Question: Why did the Russian Federation vote for the Human Rights Council resolution whole it voted against the UN general Assembly Resolution in November – which looks the same.