The Israeli government officially refused on Wednesday to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council committee set up to investigate possible war crimes during Israel’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
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The inquiry panel’s members were on Wednesday denied entry after arriving in Amman and asking to travel through Israel to the Gaza Strip.
The official decision not to cooperate with the UN probe into the summer’s military operation was made “in view of the council’s obsessive hostility toward Israel, the committee’s one-sided mandate and committee chairman William Schabas’ declared anti-Israeli positions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said.
The decision not to cooperate with the committee was expected, but was delayed for several weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a number of discussions on the issue and made his mind up yesterday.
Despite the decision not to cooperate officially with the committee, Israel will maintain indirect contact with it, as it did with the haar, which was formed after Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
Israel is expected to pass on to the committee documents outlining its position regarding the war in Gaza and testimonies indicating that Hamas had committed war crimes, such as using civilians as human shields and terror organizations’ firing near UN facilities.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said the inquiry commission’s conclusions are a foregone conclusion. The committee is “a pretense that some inquiry is being held before the conclusions are published,” he said.
“While Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israel, the UN’s Human Rights Council made a decision stating Israel’s guilt in advance and set up a probe as a rubber stamp for its known positions,” he said.
Israel is planning to renew the attacks on committee chairman Schabas in the next few days in a bid to undermine his credibility. The campaign will focus on the anti-Israeli views Schabas has expressed publicly in recent years. For example, at a conference in New York in January, 2013 Schabas called for Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres to be put on trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“My favorite would be Netanyahu within the dock of the International Criminal Court,” Schabas said.
In a law journal in 2010 he wrote that Netanyahu is “the single individual most likely to threaten the survival of Israel.”
At the same time, Schabas has defended former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said his calls to annihilate Israel were not genocide but merely “political opinions,” a Foreign Ministry official said.
In media interviews Schabas has refused to call Hamas a terror organization despite its being called that in the United States, the European Union, Britain, Canada and many other states,” Nachshon said.
He said Israel was bound to international law and made sure to uphold during Operation Protective Edge standards and rules that apply to states fighting against terror. Hamas, in contrast, deliberately committed horrific war crimes. “Israel is already examining and probing the events of Protective Edge,” he said.