Hamas responded to Goldstone's "reconsideration" by labeling it surrender to Israeli-American pressure, in sharp contrast to its enthusiastic reception of the original Report and its acceptance by the UN.

Issued on: 05/04/2011 Type: Article



Overview

1. Hamas (and the Palestinian Authority) spokesmen were severely critical of Judge Richard Goldstone's op-ed "reconsideration" article in the Washington Post, representing it as a surrender to pressure from Israel, the United States and the Jewish lobby. Their central claim was that the Report could not represent Goldstone's personal position because it had many authors and turned into a United Nations document. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri even appealed to the United Nations "to rescue the Goldstone Report."

2. The initial responses from Hamas and Palestinian Authority spokesmen to the op-ed article and the public discourse it provoked indicate, in our assessment, that Hamas is afraid the gains it reaped from the Goldstone Report will be eroded. The responses also indicate an attempt to prevent Israel from benefitting from the article by emphasizing that the Report is a UN document, neutralizing Goldstone's personal role.

3. When the Goldstone Report appeared it was greatly praised by Hamas spokesmen, who saw it as an opportunity to reinforce the Israel's international image as a committer of "war crimes" against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Hamas regarded the Report as having created the potential for a long process of dealing with bringing senior Israeli figures to trial, tying Israel's hands in future military operations in the Gaza Strip and above all, stoking the fires of the campaign to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of Western countries. On the other hand, Hamas, which carried out rocket attacks against Israeli civilians during Operation Cast Lead (and continues to do so), and which located its military networks within the civilian population (and continues to do so), was not required by the Goldstone Report to bear the responsibility for its actions.1

Responses to the Goldstone Reconsideration
(Report to Date)

Hamas

4. Hamas spokesmen were highly critical of the Goldstone article, accusing him of surrendering to pressure from Israel, the United States and the Jewish lobby. They said Goldstone's article would not change the Report, as it was no longer his "personal property" but rather a UN document:

1) Salah al-Bardawil, head of Hamas' propaganda department, said that Hamas regarded the article as Goldstone's surrender to pressure. They claimed his "reconsideration" could not erase the "slaughter" of hundreds of Palestinians by Israel and the illegal use of weapons against Palestinians. He added that the Report could not be turned by Goldstone into a vehicle to express his personal opinion, and said that Hamas has given the Goldstone Mission a full report while the IDF had refused to cooperate. He also accused the Palestinian Authority of not letting Hamas represent itself (Al-Jazeera TV, April 3, 2011).

2) Yousef Rizka, political advisor to the de facto Hamas administration, said Goldstone's article was part of a campaign planned by Israel in collaboration with the United States to prevent the United Nations from adopting the Report. He appealed to the Arab-Muslim countries to oppose Israel's media campaign to "fool people into thinking Goldstone changed his mind about the Report." He said Israel was plotting with the United States and other countries to keep the UN from adopting the Report, adding that the Israeli reports about the article did not present the truth, and that Goldstone still said the Israeli army killed civilians (Hamas' Safa News Agency, April 3, 2011).

3) Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Goldstone "reconsideration" surprised him, as did the statement that it accepted the Israeli version. He appealed to the UN "to rescue the Goldstone Report" (Hamas' Palestine-info website, April 3, 2011).

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad

5. Ahmad al-Mudallal, described as a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said that the Goldstone article was the product of the Jewish lobby, an attempt to extricate Israel from its international isolation (PIJ's Paltoday website, April 3, 2011).

The Palestinian Authority

6. Sources within the Palestinian Authority also reacted strongly to the article, claiming that the fact that Goldstone had reconsidered did not absolve Israel of blame or cancel its so-called "war crimes:"

1) The PLO's Executive Committee issued a press release expressing sorrow that Goldstone had released Israel from responsibility for its deeds and condemning the "unjust motives" behind Goldstone's reconsideration. According to the announcement, the reconsideration did not change the Report's high degree of credibility, which was based on reliable statements and investigations (Wafa News Agency, April 3, 2011).

2) PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said that whether Goldstone reconsidered or not, the fact was that Israel had committed "war crimes." He added that the Palestinian Authority would not stop its efforts to demand accountability from whose who had committed the "war crimes" during Operation Cast Lead. He said that the Report was a UN report and that the UN had to continue its investigation to arrive at the truth (Wafa News Agency, April 3, 2011).

3) Yasser Abd Rabbo, chairman of the PLO's Executive Committee, said that Goldstone did not have the right to reconsider because it was not a matter for one person. He added that the Report was the product of the committees and organizations which had investigated the events (Voice of Palestine Radio, April 3, 2011).

4) Nabil Shaath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that Goldstone had not withstood the terrorism exerted on him and had been forced to surrender. He said he was sorry that a respected personality such as Goldstone had surrendered to the "Israeli terrorism" directed against him since the publication of the Report. He also said that Goldstone had been ostracized by religious, political and social forums around the globe (Al-Ayam, April 2, 2011).

Appendix


Hamas Response to the Goldstone Report,
November 2009

 

7. When the Goldstone Report was issued and adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 5, 2009, the Hamas' response was enthusiastic. Hamas spokesmen stressed three central points:

1) Hamas represented the UN's adoption of the Report as a condemnation of Israel and an achievement for the Palestinians: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that it was an important achievement for Hamas because it was the first time Israel had suffered broad international condemnation for its "war crimes" (interviewed by the BBC in Arabic, November 6, 2009). Muhammad Nizal, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said that the General Assembly's acceptance of the Report was "support for the Palestinian cause, justice and human rights" (Radio Damascus, November 6, 2009).

2) Hamas was not worried by the demand that the Palestinians also conduct an investigation: That was because the Palestinians were the "victims," according to Hamas, of "crimes" (and thus were the accusers and not the accused). Hamas was not worried by the Israeli accusations that it had used civilians as human shields during Operation Cast Lead because the Goldstone Report had directed that accusation against Israel, not Hamas. He said that Hamas had not been accused of firing rockets into Israel because the Goldstone Report referred to the "resistance" [i.e., the terrorist organizations] only generally, and not Hamas in particular (Sami Abu Zuhri interviewed by the BBC in Arabic).

3) The Hamas administration was preparing "for an investigation:" The de facto Hamas administration said it was appointing "an official committee" of ministers and experts. The committee would operate in consultation with "human rights experts," both local and international (Sami Abu Zuhri interviewed by the BBC in Arabic, November 6, 2009).2

8. Taher al-Nunu, spokesman for the de facto Hamas administration, said that the acceptance of the Report by the UN General Assembly would lead to legal action, which in turn would lead to the Israeli leadership's ("the occupation leadership") being tried for "war crimes." He said the "battle" was not over and that Hamas would continue its contacts with the Arab-Muslim countries to bring the "occupation leadership" to trial in every country where the law allowed it (Al-Quds TV, November 6, 2009). Muhammad Nizal, of Hamas' political bureau, said that the General Assembly's decision was a very important step in bringing "the Israeli criminals and terrorists" at both the political and military level to trial (Radio Damascus, November 6, 2009). Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Authority permanent observer in the UN, said that the General Assembly's decision had begun a practical process which would only come to an end when the "Israeli criminals" who had carried out "war crimes" during Operation Cast Lead were brought to trial (Press TV, Iran, November 6, 2009).3

1 In the article in the Washington Post, Goldstone claimed that "our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas [i.e., rocket fire] were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html. In effect, the Goldstone Report did in fact state that the rocket fire constituted a "war crime" but did not indicate Hamas or any other terrorist organization as responsible for it.

2 In his op-ed article Goldstone stated that Hamas did not, in fact, appoint an investigatory committee. He said that " Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html

3 For further information, see the November 8, 2009 ITIC bulletin, " Hamas expresses satisfaction with the UN General Assembly decision regarding the Goldstone Report" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e088.pdf.


1 In the article in the Washington Post, Goldstone claimed that "our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas [i.e., rocket fire] were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html. In effect, the Goldstone Report did in fact state that the rocket fire constituted a "war crime" but did not indicate Hamas or any other terrorist organization as responsible for it.

2 In his op-ed article Goldstone stated that Hamas did not, in fact, appoint an investigatory committee. He said that " Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html

3 For further information, see the November 8, 2009 ITIC bulletin, " Hamas expresses satisfaction with the UN General Assembly decision regarding the Goldstone Report" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e088.pdf.

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