‘Human Wrongs Council’ – Israel Ambassador to UN on Schabas Appointment to Gaza Commission
by Joshua Levitt
Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Tuesday said “the United Nations Human Rights Council set a new record for anti-Israel bias and proved once again, that it would be better named the ‘Human Wrongs Council'” because of its “complete travesty of justice” by inviting Professor William Schabas, “one of the most outspoken critics of Israel to serve as its judge and jury.”
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Prosor said the appointment of Schabas is akin to “inviting ISIS to chair the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony Week.”
“The selection of William Schabas to chair the Gaza commission of inquiry is an utter farce,” Prosor said. “The only inquiry taking place should be an inquiry into how a vehemently anti-Israel chair was selected to lead a UN commission investigating Israel.”
As Schabas, who now writes books exclusively about prosecuting genocide in the international arena, was named to the chair the panel, Doudou DiÃ¨ne, a former U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, was named as a representative along with Amal Alamuddin, a Lebanese-British lawyer better known as the fiancee of Hollywood actor George Clooney, though she declined the nomination.
Jewish organizations also condemned the creation of the commission and its appointments. The Anti-Defamation League called the panel “a farce” with the outcome “all-but preordained.”
“Here we go again,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “As if on cue, the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed a so-called ‘independent’ panel to investigate Israel’s conduct in the recent conflict in Gaza, with the outcome all-but preordained. This farce began with an illegitimate Council resolution and will predictably end with an illegitimate panel investigation and report, entirely biased against Israel, which places the blame squarely on Israel for ‘war crimes’ and other violations of international law and pays no attention to the terrorism of Hamas.”
In his last full day in office, former Israeli President Shimon Peres also objected to the creation of the commission in a joint press conference with the UN Secretary-General, who he called out for allowing UN-run schools in Gaza to be used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as rocket depots and launchpads.
“We have seen this theater of the absurd before,” Foxman said. “The inquiry will be stacked against Israel through the appointment of individuals with anti-Israel bona fides like Professor William Schabas. Israel, understandably, will refuse to cooperate. And, finally, a harsh, biased and fundamentally flawed report will be issued, providing fodder to those who have already found Israel guilty on all counts and handing Hamas a phony victory in the court of public opinion.”
“Schabas has made comments critical of Israel’s leadership in the past, and participated in the 2012 Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a conference in which Israel is put on trial, with its guilt on war crimes fully presumed,” Foxman said. “DiÃ¨ne has served as U.N. Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance from 2002 to 2008 and as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in CÃ´te d’Ivoire from 2011 to 2014.”
B’nai B’rith International said “the commission itself illegitimate as it was born of a UNHRC resolution that stridently excoriated Israel in advance of the ‘inquiry’ it launched and didn’t so much as mention Hamas by name. It was specifically designed to scrutinize not years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israelis, but”Ž rather Israel’s defensive response to them. Any suggestion that there is equivalence between terrorism and a state defending its civilians from that threat is both outrageous and unacceptable.”
“Naming individuals with prior, public positions harshly critical of Israeli policy reinforces strong anticipation that the Gaza probe’s conclusions are foregone,” B’nai B’rith said. “Schabas, for example, was quoted in 2013 as saying, ‘my favorite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court.'”
“Alamuddin—who is engaged to actor George Clooney—has now said she is unavailable to sit on the UNHRC commission. Nonetheless, she specified in a statement that she was ‘horrified’ by what she called the ‘crimes’ committed in the ‘occupied Gaza Strip.’ Gaza, however, saw all Israeli military personnel and civilians depart in 2005, and it has been the origin of relentless, criminal violence against the civilians of Israel by Palestinian terrorist groups led by Hamas. Her intended appointment reveals not only the inherent bias of the UNHRC commission and its dispatchers, but also a deplorable attempt to garner publicity for yet another exercise in anti-Israel bias.”
Israel’s Prosor brought the issue back to the wider violation of human rights around the world, and how rather than protecting people, the UNHRC has became a tool for the violators. He said “the exploitation of the UNHRC by some of the world’s worst human rights abusers is a grave misfortune for the millions of oppressed people around the world. While the Council is singularly focused on its anti-Israeli agenda, the world’s most murderous tyrants continue brutalizing their people.”
He called on the UN Secretary-General to “to publicly denounce the appointment of Mr. Schabas” as his selection “is a disgraceful stain on the values that the UN claims to stand for.”