Netanyahu: After Gaza Inquiry Head Quit, UN Should Shelve Report

Schabas quit amid allegations of anti-Israel bias; Schabas says he did not want personal attacks to detract from inquiry; Hamas: Resignation is evidence of Israeli state terror.

Barak Ravid
Jack Khoury
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Prof. William Schabas.
Prof. William Schabas.Credit: YouTube
Barak Ravid
Jack Khoury

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the committee appointed by United Nations Human Rights Council to shelve its report into the summer 2014 Gaza conflict, following Canadian academic William Schabas' resignation Monday night.

Schabas said he would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

"After the resignation of William Schabas it is time to shelve the anti-Israeli report his committee wrote," Netanyahu said in response. 

Netanyahu called out the UN Human Rights Council for "proving itself an anti-Israel body," saying that in 2014, it "received more resolutions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined."

Officials said on Tuesday that the inquiry will produce its report on time next month despite Schabas' resignation, brushing aside Netanyahu's demand to shelve it.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman cautioned that Schabas' resignation would not affect the committee's conclusions, stating that the committe was inherently biased.

Lieberman lauded the Israeli Foreign Ministry's campaign against Schabas while commenting on the international community's hypocrisy, saying that appointing Schabas was like "appointing Cain to investigate who killed Abel."

Schabas spoke to Israel's Channel 2 on Tuesday after Netanyahu and Lieberman slammed the committee, saying that "Netanyahu and Lieberman are experts in making ridiculous declarations."

"Netanyahu had called for me to leave the committee since the day I was appointed," Schabas said. He claimed the situation became "unbearable," and that he did not want Netanyahu and Lieberman's "personal attacks to detract from the real issue, which is justice for the victims."

Hamas official Ismail Radwan said Tuesday afternoon that Schabas' resignation is sufficient evidence of the state terror committed by Israel.

Radwan, who was interviewed on the Hamas-affiliated Arsalah website, said that Israel placed pressure on Schabas to step down, since Israel wants to stop any commission or inquiry that could reveal its conduct and oppression committed against Palestinians.

Radwan stated that these committees should reveal the true face of Israel and lead its leaders to the International Criminal Court, while calling on the international community to protect anyone investigating alleged war crimes.

Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.

Schabas' departure highlights the sensitivity of the UN investigation just weeks after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said they had started a preliminary inquiry into alleged atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

In the letter, Schabas said a legal opinion he wrote for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2012, for which he was paid $1,300, was not different from advice he had given to many other governments and organizations.

"My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public," he wrote. "This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks (...)."

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