The Palestinian and Arab public campaign against the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) withdrawal of the request to discuss Judge Richard Goldstone’s report and to transfer it to the UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice in The Hague had a number of various outcomes.
A negative outcome is that it weakened the PA’s reputation and status, and even destabilized its internal status, especially after it was heavily criticised by its own apparatuses and cadres.
A positive outcome is that it caused the PA to reconsider its position and request that the Goldstone report is discussed in order to contain public anger. As a result, there was another positive outcome; the request to re-discuss the report was expanded to include a special article on Israel’s colonial behaviour in Jerusalem, an issue the Palestinians and Arabs have long been silent about, to the extent that their silence is now being questioned.
A third ambiguous result was that the uproar surrounding the PA’s position on the Goldstone report was linked to another similar controversy over the Egyptian reconciliation accord and whether or not it should be signed. As a result, the reconciliation process was subjected to instability, which the Hamas movement sought to exploit by adding more articles to the reconciliation accord. These included having a right to armed resistance, emphasizing Palestinian rights and principles that no Palestinian body can abandon. On the other hand, the PA in Ramallah tried to develop the threat of holding Palestinian legislative elections only in the West Bank in early January 2010 if Hamas postpones signing the reconciliation accord.
This was stated by the President Mahmoud Abbas and is most dangerous because it consolidates the existing doubts of what is described as “the West Bank apparatuses” and “the political solution in the West Bank,” which invalidates the unity of the Palestinian Cause and reduces it to a small geographical area.
In context of the above, the Goldstone report received a strong reaction. Following are examples of what was printed in the Israeli press about the development of such reactions and Israel’s great fear of the report. There was also a focus on some initial results of the crisis of the Goldstone report such as Israel’s deteriorating ties with Turkey.
On October 15, 2009, Israeli journalist Gideon Levi wrote an article entitled ‘The Golda Wars’ which was published in Haaretz newspaper, criticising the Goldstone Report. He says, “Those who are to blame for everything have been found: the ‘Goldstoners.’ Not the occupation, the settlements, Israeli aggressiveness or brutality; just Goldstone. According to Ari Shavit (Haaretz, October 8), the spirit of Judge Richard Goldstone will bring the next war upon us, and it will be called the Goldstone War.” He reacts to them by saying: “Not since Golda Meir said she would never forgive the Arabs for making us kill their children have such self-righteous, infuriating and damaging statements been made.”
“The Goldas are doing everything possible to avoid a peace agreement. They whine and self-victimize. ‘Israel is incessantly subjected to terror attacks,’ Shavit laments. They also ignore the siege on Gaza, the Goldas, as if that were not the main motive for the Qassams.”
“To prevent the region’s deterioration into complete chaos, Israel must exercise force once every few years,” Shavit writes, wilfully concealing the fact that these wars are no more than maintenance wars of the occupation, wars for real estate. Yes, to maintain it one must go to war every few years.”
The writer concludes by saying, “And who is it that is damaging the imaginary achievements of Cast Lead? The Goldstoners of course. He is only an internationally esteemed judge, a courageous liberal and a fighter for human rights, a man of conscience who dared do here what he did in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. There, they cheered him, while here, they accuse him of causing the next war…To the Goldas we say: Every shell that lands on a house in Gaza causes more damage than any report. Those who have isolated Israel are the government, the Israel Defense Forces and their demagogic cheerleaders.”
Ari Shavit published an article in Haaretz entitled ‘Israel Needs Legitimacy to Wage War and Peace,’ in which he wrote, “But things are not all right – they really are not. Why? Because underneath those still waters on which Israel’s ship is sailing lurks an iceberg. The Goldstone report marked the iceberg’s first appearance. Turkey turning its back on Israel was the second. Attempts by European courts to try Israel Defense Forces officers were the third; the boycott of Israeli products and companies in various places round the world was the fourth; and global indifference to the nuclearization of a regional power that threatens to wipe Israel off the map is the fifth. Every week, almost every day, the iceberg peeks above the surface. And when one takes a good look over the railing of this pleasure cruise, one can see exactly what it is: The iceberg is the loss of the state of Israel’s legitimacy.”
There is also another issue that concerns Turkey; there was deep Israeli anger when Turkey excluded Israel from participating in a major international military exercise. It was further angered when Turkey decided to include the Syrian army in the drill, (Ynet 14/10/2009).
The newspaper mentioned that security circles in Israel criticized what looks like a honeymoon period between Damascus and Ankara. It claimed that Turkey’s decision to carry out joint military exercises with Syria was a mistake on top of the mistake of cancelling the drill with Israel. It believes that this agreement, more than anything else, expresses a state of distress and recklessness, as the Turks are distancing themselves from the West. Without a doubt, Israel, and its security apparatus in particular, will have to start relations with Ankara from scratch. The newspaper went on to say that numerous voices from the security apparatuses have looked for ways to respond to the crisis. While Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense, attempted to calm the situation down, other circles within his ministry said that surrendering to the Turks would be of no use at this stage because the Ankara government is insisting on abandoning the alliance with Israel and on improving its ties with Syria and Iran.”
The newspaper concluded by saying that it had learnt that Turkey has recently put a stop to cooperating with Israel on a number of ultra-sensitive issues in the intelligence field, and has also cancelled security deals with Israel including a satellite deal. For its part, Israel froze its security ties with the Turks, fearing that Israeli technology would fall into the wrong hands.
Therefore, a burst of white phosphorous that killed civilians in Gaza has turned into an international problem, threatened the fates of political parties and turned a country that boasts about its strength into a country whose leaders fear being pursued. This has changed regional relationships. All that remains is for Arab politicians to recognize the value of such changes.