Israel defends itself according to international law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, following the release of the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry's report on Operation Protective Edge.
"The report is biased. The commission that wrote it is under a committee that does everything but protect human rights," Netanyahu said at the opening of a Likud faction meeting.
The prime minister pointed to the disproportionate number of denunciations of Israel the UNHRC releases, compared to violators like Iran and North Korea.
"Israel defends itself according to international law and we are not the only ones to say so," he added. "That statement is backed by a report by senior generals
from the US and Europe. One general said no other country [than Israel] makes such efforts to uphold the law."
Netanyahu vowed that Israel will not be deterred from striking those who try to harm it, in accordance with international law.
The Foreign Ministry issued a measured response Monday to the UNHRC report, saying that it will “study” the report, criticizing the process that led to the report, and the body that sanctioned it, rather than the report itself.
This contrasts greatly with the Israeli response in 2009 to the Goldstone report that investigated Operation Cast lead in 2008-2009, when the Foreign Ministry issued a statement at the time saying it was “appalled and disappointed” by that report which it said effectively ignored Israel's right to self defense.
That type of language was not used in a response issued by the Foreign Ministry immediately after Monday's release of what is known in Jerusalem as the Schabas report, after its first chairman, William Schabas
, who stepped down after it was revealed that he was once paid for his services by the PLO. The report concluded that Israel and the Palestinians may have committed war crimes in last year's 51-day conflict
“Israel is studying the Commission of Inquiry Report (COI) from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC),” the response said, before criticizing the process. “Just as Israel seriously considered every complaint, no matter its origin, it will also seriously study this report. We take note of the fact that the authors of this report admitted that they lacked much of the relevant information.”
Regarding the process, the statement said “it is well known that the entire process that led to the production of this report was politically motivated and morally flawed from the outset.”
The statement said it was “regrettable” that the report did not recognize the “profound difference between Israel's moral behavior” during the operation, and the terror organizations it confronted.
According to the statement the report “was commissioned by a notoriously-biased institution, given an obviously-biased mandate, and initially headed by a grossly-biased chairperson, William Schabas.”
The commission, established by a council that “has a singular obsession with Israel,” had a mandate that “presumed Israel guilty from the start,” the statement read.
In addition, according to the response, the commission “lacked the necessary tools and expertise to conduct a professional and serious examination of armed conflict situations.”
The statement said that Israel defended itself against attacks using the “highest international standards. This was confirmed by a comprehensive examination by Israeli military and legal experts, as well as reports produced by internationally-renowned military professionals.”
Israel, the statement concluded, “will continue to uphold its commitment to the law of armed conflict despite the brutal tactics of its enemies. Israel will continue to investigate alleged wrongdoing in accordance with international standards and to cooperate with those UN bodies that conduct themselves in an objective, fair and professional manner.”