UNHRC’s investigators ask to delay Gaza report until June

The UNHRC’s Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza Conflict was expected to deliver its report to the UNHRC on March 23rd, toward the end of UN Human Rights Council’s month long.

March 9, 2015 20:39
3 minute read.

A session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva underway. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The UN Human Rights Council commission investigating the IDF’s actions during last summer’s Gaza conflict has asked to delay the submission of its report until June to give it more time to complete the job.

This report is expected to be the basis of any Palestinian war crimes case against Israel before the International Criminal Court.

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The UNHRC’s commission of inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict was originally to submit its report on March 23, but as The Jerusalem Post reported two weeks ago, the timetable changed because of the resignation last month of legal expert William Schabas as the committee’s chairman.

Schabas, viewed in Jerusalem as having a strong anti-Israel bias, stepped down after it was revealed that he had worked briefly as a paid consultant for the PLO in 2012.

Former New York Supreme Court judge Mary McGowan Davis replaced Schabas, and it is believed the new timetable stems in part from her wanting to rework part of the report and not merely serve as a rubber stamp for the work that Schabas left behind.

The UNHRC, which is holding its 28th session in Geneva this month, must now vote on the request to put off submitting the report. But the vote, which could take place as early as Wednesday, is expected to be merely a formality.

The Foreign Ministry, which has not cooperated with the commission, declined to comment on the delay.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the commission said that the two-member panel requested more time to complete its work.

“The commissioners have indicated their desire for more time in order to assess the information that they have collected – much of which has only been received in recent weeks,” the spokeswoman said.

“They appreciate the concerns of all the victims and witnesses who have testified to the commission and want to reassure them that they intend to do justice to their submissions,” she added.

“These are complex issues – weighing the facts and considering the legal questions that arise is something that should not be rushed under any circumstances.”

Israel has refused to cooperate with the probe from the outset, charging that the commission is tantamount to a kangaroo court, whose conclusions were determined before the investigation even began.

The commission was originally made up of Schabas, McGowan Davis and Senegalese legal expert Doudou Diene.

When Schabas stepped down, he said one of the reasons was that the revelation that he had worked briefly for the PLO had become a distraction, and he wanted to ensure that the report would not be delayed beyond the March 23 deadline.

After he left, the two remaining members of the committee continued the work, but extended by 10 days the deadline for the submission of evidence.

UNHRC’s president, German Ambassador to the UN Joachim Ruecker, said he had discussed the matter with McGowan Davis and Diene and supported the delay.

“I support the request for additional time vis-à-vis the Human Rights Council, in order to allow them to finalize a comprehensive report as mandated,” Ruecker said.

Israel is expected to release its own document, laying out the country’s legal position regarding Operation Protective Edge, before the UNHRC publishes its report.

This paper, put together by an interministerial team, is widely seen as an attempt to ensure – by underlining Israel’s ongoing judicial review of the events over the summer – that the International Criminal Court does not launch a full-blown investigation.

The ICC is reticent to take up cases that are being investigated by a country’s judicial system that is recognized as competent.

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