19 Sep 2009
Laura Flanders of GRITtv interviews Phyllis Bennis author of "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" after the release of Justice Richard Goldstone's report on Gaza -- an extremely high level investigative report that looked into the abuse of international human rights law.
Bennis is interviewed immediately after the report was released at the United Nations (UN) in a session that she attended.
This is the most important report of many that have been released about Gaza because it was mandated by the Human Rights Committee of the UN and in many ways, it is the most comprehensive, says Bennis.
The report is important because it is comprehensive in its coverage of the alleged violations committed by Israel of international human rights law -- though it does include alleged Palestinian violations.
What is particularly important about the report says Bennis, "is making real, what Justice Goldstone refers to as a history of impunity."
Bennis cautions about some problems related to the call for accountability in the report, arguing that this will be put to the UN Security Council where the threat of a United States veto looms large.
The other problem is that Goldstone has put the calls for accountability in the context of "complementarity," meaning that international law should complement existing national law and that the "first crack" should go to Israel itself.
Goldstone says Israel should be given six months to convene credible investigative efforts to hold accountable those who have committed violations.
In this regard, Bennis contends, "Imagine Israel really did convene a war crimes hearing, but based on Israeli law, they may just find that nothing that has been done has been illegal -- and then what happens?"
Still, she maintains that the Goldstone report is a huge step forward in making accountability the "centre piece."
The possibility of a referral to the International Criminal Court was also placed high up in the report.
At the UN session where the report was released, an Israeli did accuse Justice Goldstone of being unfair (from other reports, it is also clear that Israel has taken huge measures to discredit the report in the international media), but Bennis, says that there is no way that the credibility of the Goldstone investigation can be challenged.
The challenge, she says, is how much pressure we as civil society can bring to bear on our governments to make it real.