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Palestinian rights organizations demand government investigate Goldstone claims

Thirteen Palestinian human rights organizations and legal advocacy groups appealed to President Mahmoud Abbas and de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in open letters, calling for the immediate commencement of internal investigations of the Goldstone report.

The groups demanded the investigations be carried out in compliance with the UN General Assembly resolution.

The letter explained that on 5 February 2010 the UN Secretary-General is due to submit his report on the implementation of the General Assembly Resolution relating to investigations into allegations made in the Goldstone report. "As Palestinian and international non-governmental organizations, we urge both the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza to immediately commence credible internal investigations in compliance with international standards and in accordance with the Report by the Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict."

Members of the Palestinian NGOs and human rights groups noted that the deadline to submit internal and credible investigations into allegations made in the report looms, and that all Palestinian authorities concerned must abide by the international community's call for such investigations. "We urge you [Abbas] to immediately take clear and public steps toward holding all those who prove to be responsible for the violations detailed in the Report to account."

The signatories noted that "We wish to assert that we are concerned only with the conduct of hostilities during armed conflict ... "

"Israel has continued to reject the rule of law and their international humanitarian and human rights obligations by continuing its illegal practices, including the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and by condemning the Report of the Fact Finding Mission and rejecting its well-based findings on Israel's violations. For the Palestinians to continue to effectively struggle for their legitimate rights as a people, it is crucial that their leaders and representatives adopt an approach, centered on the rule of law and respect for human rights."

"We look forward to learning of your positive steps to take the necessary domestic measures to investigate violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and, where appropriate, to hold accountable those who prove to have committed these violations and to prosecute and punish them as recommended by the UN Fact Finding Mission."

The letter recognized the efforts already made by the Palestinian side in seeking to achieve justice for the Palestinian people. "In order to ensure that the work of the PLO on guaranteeing endorsement of the Report at the UN level, is of lasting value further steps must now be taken to implement its recommendations and the above mentioned GA Resolution."

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