In the latest revelation to come out of the 1,600 Palestine-Israel peace process documents leaked this week by news outlets al-Jazeera and The Guardian, a transcript from 2009 shows that the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas intentionally delayed a vote by the United Nations Human Rights Council on supporting the Goldstone Report on human rights violations by Israel and Hamas during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008-9.Initially, the UN Human Rights Council had planned to vote to endorse the Goldstone Report in October of 2009, but the newly-leaked document shows that the Palestinian Authority called for the vote to be delayed to 2010, at the urging of the United States.
U.S. officials encouraged the Palestinian Authority to take a stand counter to the sentiments of most Palestinians, in the hope that this would encourage Israel to return to the negotiating table. The U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, presented the Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat with a document that he expected the Palestinian Authority (PA) to present to the public, stating, ‚ÄúThe PA will help to promote a positive atmosphere conducive to negotiations; in particular during negotiations it will refrain from pursuing or supporting any initiative directly or indirectly in international legal forums that would undermine that atmosphere.‚ÄĚ
This position would have negated one of the main Palestinian aims: to be able to bring charges against Israeli officials in international court for war crimes documented in the Goldstone Report. The 400-page report, which was commissioned by the United Nations after a 3-week long Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead, found evidence that both Israeli forces and the armed wing of Hamas committed war crimes during the course of the invasion.
On the day that the vote was scheduled to take place, on October 2nd, 2009, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was at the United Nations in New York encouraging postponement of the vote, Chief Palestinian negotiator was in Washington D.C. with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, making the case that this concession (postponement of the vote) was a ‘good faith measure’ to encourage Israel to come to the table.
His statement, revealed in today’s leaked documents, has led some critics to claim that Erekat was putting Israeli interests ahead of the Palestinian interests he was supposed to be representing. He said, We find ourselves in the eye of the storm,‚ÄĚ Erekat lamented to Mitchell. ‚ÄúWe pray every day that Israel will come to the point where they realize that a Palestinian state on the  border is in their interest…That‚Äôs why we are frustrated. We want to help the Israelis.‚ÄĚ