The Cable

Berman and Ackerman respond to Goldstone

The House is preparing to vote on a resolution condemning the U.N.'s Goldstone Report, but not before making changes to the text to respond to the complaints of Goldstone himself.

Meanwhile in New York, the U.N. General Assembly was preparing for a possible vote on a resolution supporting the Goldstone Report on Wednesday and Arab U.N. delegations were circulating a draft today.

The Congressional resolution, which simply expresses the opinion of Congress and has no actual force of law, deems the report "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy," and "calls on the President and the Secretary of State to strongly and unequivocally oppose any further consideration of the [report] and any other measures stemming from this report in multilateral fora."

Sponsored by House Foreign Affairs heads Howard Berman, D-CA, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, the measure is expected to pass by a wide margin.

Justice Richard Goldstone, the primary author of the report, wrote a lengthy memorandum to the bill's sponsors criticizing the text of the House resolution. In a dear colleague letter circulated Monday, Berman and Gary Ackerman, D-NY, responded to each of Goldstone's complaints.

Chief among them was the issue of whether the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a mandate for the report that prejudged Israel's guilt in alleged war crimes committed during the Gaza operation. Berman and Ackerman rejected Goldstone's contention that he altered the mandate to include the examination of rocket attacks on Israel in addition to Israeli actions in Gaza.

"The broadened mandate Justice Goldstone sought was discussed, but not voted on, at an UNHRC plenary session. It was then announced via a press release in an altered formation, more restrictive than the formulation envisioned by Justice Goldstone," Berman and Ackerman wrote.

"Even though Justice Goldstone made earnest efforts to alter the mandate, he did not fully succeed ... we intend to alter the resolution to take account of Justice Goldstone's effort."

UPDATE: As expected, the House overwhelmingly passed the measure, with 344 members voting for, 36 voting against, and 22 voting "present."

Here are the new test portions of the resolution added before passage:

Whereas Justice Richard Goldstone, who chaired the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,' told the then-President of theUNHRC, Nigerian Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, that he intended to broaden the mandate of the Mission to include "all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after," a phrase that, according to Justice Goldstone, was intended to allow him to investigate Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians;

Whereas Ambassador Uhomoibhi issued a statement on April 3, 2009, that endorsed part of Justice Goldstone's proposed broadened mandate but deleted the phrase "before, during, and after," and added inflammatory
anti-Israeli language;

Whereas a so-called broadened mandate was never officially endorsed by a plenary meeting of the UNHRC, neither in the form proposed by Justice Goldstone nor in the form proposed by Ambassador Uhomoibhi;

And this clause has been expanded, so it now reads that resolution:

calls on the President and the Secretary of State to continue to strongly and unequivocally oppose any endorsement of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' in multilateral fora, including through leading opposition to any United Nations General Assembly resolution and through vetoing, if necessary, any United Nations Security Council resolution that endorses the contents of this report, seeks to act upon the recommendations contained in this report, or calls on any other international body to take further action regarding this report.

The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Morocco, Abdullah Abdullah, Okada, Uighurs, USAID

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of today's briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ate lunch with Moroccan Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri, had an audience with King Mohammed VI, met with the foreign ministers from the GCC plus three, and dinner opening the Forum for the Future.
  • The withdrawal of Abdullah Abdullah from the Afgan presidential runoff election "doesn't change our policy, necessarily," Kelly said, adding "the important thing is that this whole process and the formation of the government as it goes forward is done in accordance with Afghan laws and institutions." Kelly refused repeated attempts to get him to say if the U.S. has a "credible partner," in the government run by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "What I'll say is, We're prepared to work with this partner."
  • No decision yet on whether to send Ambassador Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang and no readout of the meetings between Ambassador Sung Kim and North Korean negotiator Ri Gun from Kelly. But The Cable reported what actually happened in those meetings here.
  • Kelly wouldn't explain why the Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada was apparently set to meet with Clinton and then the meeting disappeared from the schedule. "When we put out a week-ahead schedule, it is intended to be for planning and not for publication," he said. But again, The Cable has got you covered on this one
  • The transfer of six ethnic Uighurs to the island nation of Palau was hailed by Kelly as "a major step in implementing the President's directive to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility." No word on where the other 223 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are going.
  • The State Department is "trying very hard" to find someone to be the head of USAID, Kelly said. "It depends on the White House, of course. It depends on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," he said. It also depends on what happens to USAID.