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Goldstone report: New roadblock to Palestinian reconciliation?

Hamas cancels Fatah reconciliation talks in Egypt. At the UN, Libya gets a hearing today about allegations in the Goldstone report on the Gaza war.

By Ilene R. PrusherStaff writer / October 7, 2009

A Palestinian boy stands on top of rubble last week from a building destroyed in January's Israeli military offensive, in Jebaliya, northern Gaza Strip. UN investigator Richard Goldstone defended a report Tuesday that accuses Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes during their conflict in Gaza, an allegation Israel condemns and claims is the result of bias against the Jewish state.

Hatem Moussa/AP

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JERUSALEM - The Palestinian Authority’s decision to delay further action on the Goldstone report – a UN investigation into the war in Gaza – is continuing to put Fatah leaders in a difficult political position vis-à-vis their domestic image, and may ultimately postpone progress on a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal.

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Hamas said today that it had canceled a meeting between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo, where the two were expected to sign a reconciliation deal on Oct. 26. The reason, the Islamic organization said, was their outrage towards PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

“The crime of postponing the vote on Goldstone’s report left a severe psychological crack, and Abbas should immediately apologize to the Palestinian people,” said Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Gaza-based Hamas leader, in a statement sent to the media. He added: “Hamas has asked Egypt to postpone the dialogue, until Abbas apologizes.”

Anger against the Fatah-led PA has been manifest since late last week, when its representative in Geneva asked that the Goldstone report not be adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, which would then send it to the UN Security Council. Small protests have been held in Ramallah, and larger ones in Gaza City, which is now full of posters accusing Abbas of “a great treason” and saying he should be thrown into “the dustbin of history.”

The 575-page UN report points to evidence that suggests both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, but it reserved its most damning criticism for Israel. Israeli officials have attacked the report as devoid of merit and balance, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last week that if Palestinians pursue action on it, they would endanger any return to peace talks.

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