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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 ...

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."

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.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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