Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, Deputy Permanent Representative, on a UN General Assembly Resolution on the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, in the General Assembly

Alejandro Wolff
Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 5, 2009


Thank you Mr. Chairman,

The United States remains deeply concerned about the human suffering of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples that results from the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. The best way to end that suffering is to bring about a comprehensive peace in the region, including two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The United States is firmly committed to pursuing that goal. As we urge the parties to restart permanent status negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, we should all be seeking to advance the cause of peace—and doing nothing to hinder it.

The United States strongly supports accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations in relation to the Gaza conflict.  Our goal is to achieve genuine accountability in a way that respects internal processes and the ongoing efforts to restart permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

As the United States made clear in Geneva, we believe that the Goldstone Report is deeply flawed—including its unbalanced focus on Israel, its sweeping conclusions of law, the excessively negative inferences it draws about Israel’s intentions and actions, its failure to deal adequately with the asymmetrical nature of the Gaza conflict, its failure to assign appropriate responsibility to Hamas for its decision to base itself and its operations in heavily civilian-populated urban areas, and its many overreaching recommendations.

First, let me point out that we appreciate that the resolution under consideration calls on both Israel and the Palestinians—although it does not name Hamas—to pursue investigations of the allegations that pertain to each of them in the Report.  This is an advance over the original one-sided mandate provided by the Human Rights Council to the Goldstone Commission. We will continue to call for all parties to meet their responsibilities and pursue credible domestic investigations.

Nevertheless, we also have real concerns about this resolution.

Given the far-reaching legal conclusions and recommendations of the 575-page Goldstone Report, including findings that have serious implications for conflicts in other parts of the world, we do not think it appropriate to endorse the Report in its entirety. 

Attempting, as this resolution does, to press the Security Council to take this matter up is equally unconstructive. The Security Council is already seized of the situation in the Middle East and holds monthly meetings on the topic, the only subject on the Council’s entire agenda that is discussed with such frequency.  As many member states have made clear, the appropriate forum for discussion of this report is the Human Rights Council.

The resolution also unhelpfully introduces international supervision of the investigations to be undertaken by the parties that would interfere with the parties’ ability to conduct their own processes.

The proposed convocation of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention is also unnecessary and unproductive.  Convening a conference of the Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention for the purpose of spotlighting one country would only heighten divisions and could set back the process of restarting permanent status negotiations. This and the other imbalanced references to the parties throughout the text—including the failure to mention Hamas by name—convey the impression that this body is, yet again, handling Arab-Israeli issues in an unbalanced manner.

For these reasons, we will vote against the resolution. But we believe that lifesaving progress can be made if we can lift our sights and look toward a more hopeful future. The United States will continue to work resolutely in pursuit of a just and lasting peace.  

Thank you Mr. President.


PRN: 2009/261