An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards southern Gaza on August 1, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday responded to the decision by Canadian jurist William Schabas to step down from the United Nations’ investigation into the recent Gaza war by saying that the report that he was working on should also be discarded.
The Schabas commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a body that Netanyahu said was an anti-Israel institution that has shown through its decision that there is no connection between it and human rights.
The commission has concluded collecting evidence, and is scheduled to present its conclusions to the UNHRC on March 23.
“This is the same body that only in 2014 passed more resolutions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas, other terrorist organizations and the terror regimes around us are the ones who need to be investigated, and not Israel.”
Netanyahu said that Israel acted in accordance with international law during last summer’s conflict when it defended itself against rocket attacks from Gaza, while Hamas used civilians as human shields to fire on Israeli civilians.
“Israel will continue to defend itself against terror directed against it on all fronts,” he said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a statement saying that Schabas’ resignation will not change the conclusions of the report, which were biased against Israel from the very beginning by virtue of the fact that the report was initiated by the anti-Israel UNHRC.
However, he said, the resignation casts light on the people who made up the investigation commission, and their built-in biases.
Liberman said the Schabas’ resignation was an achievement for Israeli diplomacy and proved that “even the greatest hypocrites in international forums could not ignore the fact that appointing Schabas to investigate Israel was like appointing Cain to investigate Abel.”The Jerusalem Post
reported in mid-January that Israel had launched a campaign to thwart the commission of inquiry that Schabas headed, and that part of that campaign would be to discredit Schabas, who in 2012 said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be his “favorite person” to bring to the International Criminal Court.
“The Schabas Commission was born in sin,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon at the time, explaining Israel’s decision to launch a campaign to discredit it. “Its mandate is highly distorted, and its head has decided to indict Israel even before the commission started its work. This is a sham, a mockery of justice, and reminiscent of the Inquisition trials.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said it should be obvious that someone who advised the PLO cannot lead the investigation.
"In any case, this whole committee is not serious. It wrote its report in advance," Bennett told Army Radio. "The UNHRC only investigates Israel and not war crimes around the world, so we're used to this."
Bennett asserted that Israel should not cooperate with the investigation, even after Schabas' departure, saying that "this is a bad committee that has no legitimacy."
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said Schabas' appointment was inappropriate and that, with his resignation, the committee should be dissolved.
"This is another proof of that our determined diplomatic efforts and strong stance by our government in defending our truth, that the IDF acted completely morally facing the war crimes perpetrated by Hamas with the encouragement of the Palestinian Authority, brings success even in the hostile arena of the UNHRC," Levin added.
Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, the Zionist Union's candidate for defense minister, said that Schabas' resignation is not enough and the entire investigation must be removed from the UNHRC's agenda.
"This is a committee born in sin at the UNHRC, an organization that targets IDF soldiers and the State of Israel. The attempts to create equivalency between the commanders and soldiers of the IDF and of murderous terrorist organizations continue all the time," he stated.
Yadlin added that terrorist organizations are the ones committing war crimes that should be investigated, while Israel is committed to protecting its soldiers from any committee and organization that tries to harm them through preposterous, false legal pretexts.
According to Yachad leader Eli Yishai, Schabas' resignation is better late than never and the UN has been biased against Israel since it was founded.
"The investigative committee is a joke, and the fact that Goldstone's twin, Mr. Schabas, was put at its head, was an attempt to turn it into a blockbuster comedy," he quipped.
"Schabas' [resignation] is the only praiseworthy thing he's done, and let's hope he will be an example for the whole contemptible committee."