Tomorrow, the General Assembly is scheduled to vote on the Goldstone Report that criticizes both Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces for alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. The resolution that is up for a vote is partly symbolic — it will show that the Goldstone Report (which will not be taken up by the Security Council) is not gone and forgotten. But it also gives both sides five months to implement some of the report’s key findings and assures that there will be another vote on the matter this summer. This helps keep the pressure on both sides to implement their own accountability mechanisms as the report reccomends.
Still, the prospects for accountability for alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead looks pretty bleak. The Security Council route is a non-starter. The United States has expressed its reservations with the report and it is hard to believe that the United States would let a discussion on the report take place at the Council. Now, the report does recommend that if local authorities are unable or unwilling to pursue their own credible investigations, the International Criminal Court should get involved. The problem, though, is that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel, which is not a member of the court.
Chances are the vote will pass overwhelmingly in the General Assembly, much as a similar vote did in November. The final vote count then was 114 to 18, with 44 abstentions (mostly from Europe.) As was the case during the debate on that resolution, the key question for many European countries is whether or not the resolution will specifically endorse a Human Rights Council resolution on the Goldstone report. That language was left in the resolution last time, leading a number of European countries (which did not vote for the original Human Rights Council resolution) to abstain from the vote. So, stay tuned.