Head of anti-Israel UN probe resigns

After William Schabas quit as head of a UN probe into Israel’s alleged war crimes during last summer’s battle with Hamas, PM Netanyahu called to scrap the biased report entirely.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

William Schabas, head of a commission established by UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to probe alleged war crimes committed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, announced his resignation on Monday amid controversy.

Schabas, a Canadian law professor who has publicly voiced anti-Israel sentiments, resigned from the probe after Israeli diplomats revealed that he had served as a consultant for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 2012, thus deeming any outcome from the commission as biased against Israel.

In a letter on the matter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said that he would step down immediately to prevent his ties with the PLO from overshadowing the report, which is due to be published in March.

Schabas stated in the letter that he had provided a written legal opinion to the PLO for which he was paid $1,300. He claimed that this was no different from giving legal advice to any other government or organization.

“My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public,” he wrote in the letter. “This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.”

Schabas’ connection to the PLO prompted the Human Rights Council’s executive this week to seek legal advice on the matter and to reconsider his position on the commission.

“I believe that it is difficult for the work to continue while a procedure is underway to consider whether the chair of the commission should be removed,” he wrote.

Prime Minister Netanyahu gives a statement to the media. (Photo: Emil Salman/POOL)

Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks to the media. (Photo: Emil Salman/Flash90)

Responding to Schabas’ resignation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the report be scrapped. “After the resignation of the committee chairman who was biased against Israel, the report that was written at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council – an anti-Israel body, the decisions of which prove it has nothing to do with human rights – needs to be shelved.

“This is the same council that in 2014 made more decisions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined,” Netanyahu declared.

“It is Hamas, the other terrorist organizations and the terrorist regimes around us that need to be investigated, not Israel, which this past summer acted in accordance with international law as it defended itself against the Hamas war criminals who used residents of Gaza as human shields to fire at Israeli citizens. Israel will continue to defend itself against the terrorism that is being directed against it on all fronts,” he stated.

Schabas’ resignation is another “achievement for Israeli diplomacy,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman asserted. “It proves that appointing Schabas to probe Israel was like appointing Cain to probe Abel’s murder.”

The resignation, however, would not change the probe’s anti-Israel conclusions, Liberman said, “which are predetermined in accordance with the body that was established, with the sole objective of assaulting Israel.”

Yariv Levin,  head of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, said that the Schabas appointment “was flawed from the start, and with his resignation, the entire commission should be dissolved.”

History of Anti-Israel Bias

FM Avigdor Liberman. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

FM Avigdor Liberman. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The launch in August of the UNHRC investigation, which completely neglected to mention the Hamas terror organization, created a diplomatic upheaval. Israel dismissed the inquiry as a “kangaroo court” and said it would not cooperate with the investigation.

“The Council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of the world’s oldest prejudices,” Liberman declared at the time, alluding to anti-Semitism.

In November, Israel barred the UN commission from entering the country.

Schabas is known as a critic of Israel and its leaders. For example, he had called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged war crimes.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO, pointed out that “you can’t spend several years calling for the prosecution of someone and then suddenly act as his judge. It’s absurd — and a violation of the minimal rules of due process applicable to UN fact-finding missions.”