Israel, citing ‘bias,’ won’t cooperate with UN rights team

“It is obvious to my country, as it should be to any fair-minded observer, that there is simply no reason to believe that Israel will receive reasonable, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment.”

By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

Israel on Thursday formally announced it would not cooperate with a special commission formed by the United Nations’ top human rights body to investigate alleged abuses against Palestinians, saying the probe and its chairwoman were unfairly biased against Israel.

“It is obvious to my country, as it should be to any fair-minded observer, that there is simply no reason to believe that Israel will receive reasonable, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment from the Council, or from this Commission of Inquiry,” said the letter, signed by Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. and international organizations in Geneva.

The council established the three-person investigative commission last May, days after an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas terrorist in the Gaza Strip.

At the time, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that Israeli actions, including airstrikes in civilian areas, might have constituted war crimes.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties, saying the group uses residential areas for cover while carrying out military activities, hiding behind innocent men, women and children who are used as “human shields.”

Israel has long accused the United Nations, and particularly the Human Rights Council, of bias.

Navi Pillay, a South African jurist and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights who was appointed to head the commission, has been accused of “making prejudicial statements” on the issues under investigation and of “compromising her impartiality.”

UN Watch, an independent NGO, submitted a 30-page complaint this week saying that Pillay violated UN rules by failing to disclose numerous of her prior statements that directly prejudge the matters before the inquiry.

“Navi Pillay embodies the injustice of the UN when it comes to the selective treatment of the Jewish state,” UN Watch stated.

The NGO also launched an online petition urging Pillay to resign.

“Many of the utterances in question occurred mere weeks before she was appointed by the UN this summer, leaving little room to imagine how Pillay could envisage the issues any differently so soon afterward,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“Asking Navi Pillay to head an inquiry examining Israel is like asking a vegetarian to review a steakhouse,” said Neuer.

“When it comes to Israel, as our legal brief demonstrates, Pillay is the complete opposite of impartial. The legal test is the appearance of bias, and there’s no doubt that Pillay fails the test. We are therefore calling on her to do the right thing, and to resign immediately.”

“If the United Nations and its Human Rights Council are to live up to their founding principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, then Navi Pillay cannot be a member, much less the chair, of this Commission of Inquiry,” he demanded.

“Accordingly, today we are calling on Ms. Pillay to recuse herself. In the event that she refuses to do so, we request Federico Villegas, the President of the Human Rights Council, to remove her.”

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session. Israel has also raised concerns about the council’s makeup, saying it includes countries with poor rights records or open hostility toward Israel. China, Cuba, Eritrea, Pakistan, Venezuela and a number of Arab countries sit on the 47-member council.