William Schabas .
(photo credit: screenshot)
William Schabas, the jurist who resigned Monday as head of the UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the Gaza conflict because he was paid by the PLO in 2012 to pen a legal opinion on their behalf, lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman who applauded his resignation.
“He can spin it any way he wants,” Schabas told Channel 2 in response to Netanyahu's statement.
Schabas said that Netanyahu and Liberman were “masters of extravagant and ridiculous statements, and I guess they will keep doing that.” According to UN Watch, a UN watchdog organization, Schabas asked in 2009 why the ICC was "going after the president of Sudan for Darfur and not the president of Israel [Shimon Peres] for Gaza.”
Netanyahu responded earlier in the day to Schabas’ decision to step down by saying that the report that he was working on should also be discarded. Netanyahu said Schabas should never have been asked to chair the committee. Schabas once said Netanyahu would be his “favorite Person” to be taken to the International Criminal Court.
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.
“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.
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“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.”
Regarding that particular comment, Schabas told Israel Radio, “it doesn't dignify a reaction, it is such an extravagant, hyperbolic statement.”
Schabas said that the UNHCR informed him Monday that it would proceed with an examination of Israel's complaint about his work for the PLO, and that was something that would take “a matter of weeks.”
“While it would go on I could not see how I could reasonably continue to work while that question was being examined,” he said. “It compromised the ongoing work of the commission of inquiry, at a time when it had to prepare its report, and submit it. “
Schabas said that he stepped down because he was becoming “an obstacle and distraction” to the work of the commission, and “I had to get out of the way and get on with its work so it can prepare its report.”
The commission has concluded collecting evidence, and is scheduled to present its conclusions to the UNHRC on March 23.
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