MCB Writes to the Foreign Secretary on Goldstone Report on Gaza

11 Nov 2009

The MCB has written to Rt. Hon. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, conveying its deep sadness and disappointment over the government’s decision to abstain from voting on the Goldstone Report (Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict) in the General Assembly recently.

The letter by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari, noted that the abstention reinforced `the perception of moral ambivalence, often described as double standards, toward the rights of the Palestinian people’.

The letter ends with an urge to the Foreign Secretary “to conduct an honest appraisal of the UK’s approach to the Goldstone report before it comes up for discussion in the Security Council. When it does, the vast majority of the members of the UN would be expecting our unequivocal support for its findings and recommendations. As we have done so vigorously in other instances, we should not in this instance renege on our treaty obligation `to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.’ (Article 146)

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Full text of the letter to the Foreign Secretary

Rt. Hon. David Miliband, MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH

10th November 2009
Dear Foreign Secretary,
After several assurances from your office that Britain would support the report of the UN inquiry led by Judge Richard Goldstone we are deeply saddened and disappointed that the United Kingdom abstained from the vote in the General Assembly. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) regards the respect of human rights as pivotal for the attainment of peace in the Middle East. Britain’s decision to abstain reinforces the perception of moral ambivalence, often described as double standards, toward the rights of the Palestinian people.

What is particularly disturbing on this occasion is the fact that one day before the vote the FCO issued a statement denying media reports from Israeli sources (Haaretz) that Britain and France were taking action to abort the UN General Assembly’s discussion of the Goldstone report. The official disclaimer read, “The media reports are utterly false. We are playing our full part in the debate and, along with our EU partners are fully engaged with the Palestinians on the content of a draft resolution. We are continuing these negotiations in earnest and in good faith.”
Alas, Britain and its European partners failed to support the resolution adopted by 114 countries. The MCB views this as a reckless dereliction of Britain’s solemn undertaking as a High Contracting Party of the Fourth Geneva Convention `to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.’

The MCB urges you to conduct an honest appraisal of the UK’s approach to the Goldstone report before it comes up for discussion in the Security Council. When it does, the vast majority of the members of the UN would be expecting our unequivocal support for its findings and recommendations. As we have done so vigorously in other instances, we should not in this instance renege on our treaty obligation `to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.’ (Article 146)

Thank you.

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari
Secretary General
The Muslim Council of Britain

Notes to Editors
1. The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

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