BERLIN – Christian Tomuschat, the German head of the Goldstone Implementation Committee, resigned late last month, according to his resignation letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Tomuschat’s statements about Israel’s security policies constituting “state terrorism” and equating Israel’s actions in the Second Lebanon War with “the barbarism which was the particular hallmark of World War II” had sparked criticism from leading legal experts on the United Nations and international human rights law.
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Tomuschat has also been accused of bias against Israel because he drafted an advisory legal opinion for Yasser Arafat in the 1990s.
In Tomuschat’s letter 10 days ago to Sihasak Phuangketkeow, president of the US Human Rights Council in Geneva, he wrote, “I am unable to serve as head of the Committee of Independent Experts to monitor investigations into violations in Gaza for a new term of office...I assumed this task with a lot of confidence, hoping to make a significant contribution to the improvement of the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”
He added, “However, at that time already I had entered into firm commitments regarding the first months of 2011. In particular, I have been appointed by my government as lead counsel in the proceeding Germany v. Italy which is currently pending before the International Court of Justice.”
Tomuschat will argue on behalf of the German government that Italy violated the principle of sovereign immunity by allowing civil claims by victims of Nazi crimes against Germany to proceed in Italian courts.
“As a consequence of these commitments, I could not possibly devote enough time to any functions as chair of the Committee of Experts under its renewed mandate. These considerations have unfortunately compelled me to decline the generous offer again made to me by the High Commissioner for Human Rights [Navanethem Pillay],” Tomuschat wrote.
in July first reported on Tomuschat’s work for the PLO and his descriptions of Israel as a terrorist state.
Responding to his critics, he wrote, “Let me point out to you that I do not feel deterred by specific attempts to discredit my impartiality and objectivity. These attempts could rather have led me to brush aside my reservations.”
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, had criticized Tomuschat’s appointment. She told the Post
on Thursday that “Tomuschat went out of his way to acknowledge in his letter that his impartiality and objectivity had been challenged, indicating that it did affect him, contrary to his arrogant dismissal of its seriousness. Actions speak louder than words. ‘I’m a really busy important guy’ doesn’t ring true.”
Bayefsky, who is also a senior editor with the UN watchdog organization Eye on the UN, exposed the anti-Israel bias of the UN secretariat official assigned to coordinate the Tomuschat committee’s activities, Ahmed Motala, who was then removed from the assignment.
Eye on the UN said in a statement on Wednesday, “Bayefsky pointed out that Tomuschat and the other two members of his committee were tainted by their close affiliation with an NGO which had been deeply involved with the Human Rights Council’s campaign to vilify Israel...UN staffer Motala, appointed to work with Tomuschat, doubled as an anti-Israel blogger. In the midst of the Gaza war he had written that Israel targeted Palestinian civilians in order to impress voters. The Tomuschat committee staffer wrote, ‘What better way to gain the support of the Israeli electorate than to...kill innocent civilians.’”
Eye on the UN also said that “Tomuschat’s resignation ought to further undermine the credibility of the report he submitted to the Council in September. In his report Tomuschat repeated the odious claim that Israel engaged in ‘violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy.’
“Tomuschat’s report went on to criticize Israel’s legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for ‘officials at the highest levels.’
“Referring to a Hamas internal ‘investigation,’ in which Hamas exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, Tomuschat’s team could only conclude that it ‘is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions,’” Eye on the UN said.
The UN Human Rights Council is slated to issue a second Goldstone implementation report in March. Post
queries to Tomuschat were not immediately returned on Thursday. According to a family member in Berlin, he is traveling abroad.
“Unfortunately, many other UN authority figures, selected precisely
because of their history of anti-Israel and anti-Western bias, remain,”
Eye on the UN said in its statement.