Daily Archives: November 3, 2009

House Condemns Goldstone 344-36, Clinton Caves on Settlements

Rep. Baird http://tinyurl.com/yfhpyqf

Tony Karon http://tinyurl.com/yayy8fx

Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP.jpg

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called for Palestinian elections in late January, has been losing support in the region because of the perception that he yields to pressure from Israel and the US. With the January election looming, this was not a good time for the US to deliver twin blows to Abbas’ public image before and after he met with Secretary of State Clinton in Abu Dhabi, just before her meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The first blow came from what Politico’s Lauren Rozen described as the “US flip-flop on the settlements freeze issue”. That blow was coupled with the public humiliation Abbas suffered after he initially blocked further consideration by the UN Human Rights Council of the Goldstone Report.

By not standing with Hamas and the Gazans who had suffered great losses in life and property, Abbas was immediately subjected to swift and angry reaction from the Palestinian public. This reaction forced him to reverse the Goldstone decision and endorse its further consideration.

Rozen quotes one Middle East authority (unnamed), who told her that “There is no strong, capable person navigating this ship. It all seems unprofessional, a policy drifting in different directions, thus projecting weakness to a savvy and cynical region that studies and looks for signs of strength and weakness. Very dangerous and full of implications for Iran and Af-Pak policy.”

This is a harsh criticism which most likely comes from a “Middle East authority” who is unfriendly to both Obama and Clinton. But the point is undeniable that “signs of strength and weakness” are watched closely in the region. The Obama-Clinton team has been no help in recent weeks to a battered President Abbas.

The Obama Administration’s bid to relaunch an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is falling apart faster than you can say settlement freeze — in no small part because President Obama began his effort by saying “settlement freeze.” . . . .

Asking the Arab states to accept Israel’s offer to simply slow down construction in the West Bank and its refusal to stop building and demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem — after President Obama publicly and repeatedly demanded it — has battered the Administration’s credibility in Arab capitals.


Congressman Brian Baird (D-Washington) will be one of those courageous members of the House who will vote against the resolution. Baird is one of the few members of the House who have, as he puts it, “actually been in Gaza”.

On his Web site, he asked his colleagues,

MARRAKESH, Morocco — For the last seven months, the Obama administration has labored in vain to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together, pushing for a loose quid pro quo under which Israel would freeze construction of Jewish settlements while its Arab neighbors undertook diplomatic steps to bolster Israel’s confidence in its security.

Now, in the latest acknowledgment that its policy has failed, at least for the moment, Secretary of StateHillary Rodham Clinton has begun setting the stage for a new phase of Middle East diplomacy, with a more modest goal. She is trying to get the parties talking at any level to avoid a dangerous vacuum until a Plan B emerges.

Mrs. Clinton began sketching out this approach Tuesday in a speech and in meetings with Arab foreign ministers during a conference of Arab and Western nations in this city of pink sandstone buildings. She flew to Cairo later to hold talks with the Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak.

Making it clear that the Israeli government would not agree to President Obama’s call for a complete halt to settlement construction, Mrs. Clinton promoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer as a reasonable compromise that could still form the basis for progress. Mr. Netanyahu

Clinton’s scaled down goals http://tinyurl.com/yh6xuuw

Why are we bringing this resolution to the floor without ever giving former South African Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone a hearing to explain his findings? Have those who will vote on H.Res. 867 actually read the resolution? Have they read the Goldstone report? Are they aware that Justice Goldstone has issued a paragraph by paragraph response, available on my Web site at http://www.baird.house.gov, to H.Res. 867 pointing out that many of its assertions are factually inaccurate or deeply misleading?

On his Web site, Rep. Baird continues:

What will it say about this Congress and our country if we so readily seek to block “any further consideration” of a human rights investigation produced by one of the most respected jurists in the world today, a man who led the investigations of abuses in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kosovo and worked to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals as a member of the Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina?

The resolution, co-sponsored by the two senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), charges that the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the U.N. Human Rights Council is “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy,” in part because it was based on “a flawed and biased mandate,” and that the militant group Hamas was able to “significantly shape the findings of the investigation.” Lawmakers expect it to win easy approval under a fast-track procedure that allows for no amendments.

“Even before I was a Democrat, I was a Zionist.” Berman told the Jewish publication, Forward, when he became chairman of Foreign Affairs. He was first elected to Congress in 1982. Continue reading

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