from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Schabas Resigns....A Bit Late

February 3, 2015

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How does this seem, for basic fairness:

A judge presides over a trial. The defendant complains about his bias, but the judge does not recuse himself. He runs the trial, and at its end he writes his verdict and decides on the sentence. Then, because he does not want his own biases to become a matter of controversy again, he decides to step aside at the last minute so that another judge can read out what he has written. Same trial, same verdict, same sentence, different voice.

No one could possibly claim that such a procedure is fair, or indeed anything more than an effort to rescue a tainted procedure by an underhanded final act. No one, that is, except the United Nations Human Rights Council.

This week William Schabas, the head of the Council’s “investigation” of Israel’s conduct in the Gaza fighting with Hamas, resigned. He did so because it has emerged that he was a paid consultant to the PLO. But his investigation is finished, so he has done all the damage that he can—except for his additional potshots at Israeli officials this week. Israel refused to cooperate with this UN Human Rights Council "investigation," because of its obvious built-in bias against Israel--and Schabas’s own. In 2009, he asked why the International Criminal Court was "going after the president of Sudan for Darfur and not the president of Israel for Gaza.” That was the notorious war criminal Shimon Peres, of course, and only in the United Nations is such a remark considered irrelevant when selecting someone to lead an "impartial" inquiry.

Schabas will be applauded inside the UN system for resigning so as to avoid compromising the integrity of the investigation. Impossible: the inquiry was stacked from the outset. Israel was right to refuse cooperation.The report will be issued in March, and its findings are entirely predictable: it will attack Israel and pretty much ignore Hamas. This entire episode is a reminder of why Israelis do not trust the United Nations, and an example of how the UN continues to exacerbate rather than help solve problems in the Middle East.

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