William Schabas resigns from UN’s anti-Israel Gaza inquiry

Outgoing discredited UNHRC inquiry chairman William Schabas

Finally! Some great news from the UN – William Schabas, the head of the kangaroo court known as the Schabas Commission, the commission of inquiry established by the Human Rights Wrongs Council to investigate Israel’s war crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, has resigned due to a conflict of interest.

This conflict of interest is an eye-opener: Schabas did not reveal that he had carried out paid work for those bastions of human rights and justice, the PLO.

UN Watch has more:

BREAKING NEWS: Reuters is now reporting that William Schabas has quit as head of the UN’s controversial commission of inquiry on Gaza, in wake of bias accusations revealing he conducted paid legal work for the PLO.

ANALYSIS: After insisting repeatedly that he would never step down, Schabas’ resignation due to bias is a major embarrassment for the UN Human Rights Council and its ill-fated Gaza inquiry. Recall that George Clooney’s wife, Amal Alamuddin, had quit on the same day the UN announced her appointment.

News of Schabas’ resignation only highlights the fact that he and others like him are selected by the UNHRC precisely because of their biased positions, and it rightly puts the entire system on the defensive.

That a law professor failed to disclose that he recently performed paid legal work for one of the sides in the conflict that he was meant to judge is astounding, and confirms that Schabas was operating with a broken moral compass.

UN Watch goes on to details the steps they took in order to persuade Schabas to resign or for the UN to fire him. Adm finally:

NEXT STEPS: UN Watch is now calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to create an independent inquiry to determine whether Schabas’ undeclared conflict of interest has now irretrievably tainted the UNHRC’s Gaza probe. The new inquiry should also investigate how Schabas was selected, and whether the UNHRC knew about his paid legal work for the PLO.

Back in August when the Commission was first formed I noted the unjust job description of the Schabas Commission – to investigate Israel’s war crimes as if they were a given. In other words, it was

reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts’ words that it almost makes one want to chuckle.

Queen of Hearts: Now… are you ready for your sentence?
Alice: Sentence? But there has to be a verdict first…
Queen of Hearts: Sentence first! Verdict afterwards.

Schabas’s unreasonable hatred of Binyamin Netanyahu is also well-documented, particularly when he called for Netanyahu to be hauled in front of the ICC for war crimes during the 2006 Gaza war – when Netanyahu was not even in power then!

You can watch video clips of Schabas’s extreme bias on UN Watch’s YouTube channel.

The usual advice to someone in trouble is “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”. But William Schabas appears to be incapable of following such a sensible instruction when it comes to Netanyahu and Israel.

Schabas has freely admitted that he has no respect for Israeli leaders:

Speaking with Yedioth Aharonot on Tuesday, after a former Goldstone Report judge was named in his stead, Schabas had harsh words of condemnation for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Even if there was another committee, Netanyahu would come out against it. People like Netanyahu will accuse any committee of being anti-Israeli,” said Schabas – who back in 2013 said he wanted to prosecute Israel for Gaza “war crimes,” even if it meant “twisting things and maneuvering” in the international legal arena.

Responding to the work he did for the PLO, which never renounced terrorism and took part in attacks even after the 1993 Oslo Accords removed its international terrorist status, Schabas said “I have a long record of consulting activities and they didn’t ask me about that work.”

“I didn’t imagine that it was important or relevant,” he said of his work for the terrorist organization. “I’m a professional who is invited to give opinions to organizations and governments. I don’t take sides and I didn’t represent the Palestinians.”

The Jerusalem Post’s law reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob is astonished that Schabas thought his work for the PLO was irrelevant in the cotnext of a UN inquiry into Israel’s actions:

Whatever the UN did or did not ask Schabas about his prior employment in terms of conflicts of interest for investigating Israel and the Palestinians in a balanced manner, that he did not think that having worked for and gotten paid by the PLO on related international law issues was a conflict of interest is at the very least bizarre.

However he and the UNHRC want to characterize his resignation, Israelis will have a very viable argument that his resignation was an admission of bias.

The report also explains that Schabas’s resignation may help any Israelis who (unlikely though that seems) end up being hauled in front of the ICC as a result of the Schabas report, which despite his resignation is almost complete:

In the still unlikely worst case scenario that the International Criminal Court prosecutor opens a full criminal investigation, let alone indicts Israeli soldiers or war policy- makers, Schabas’s resignation may not merely be a diplomatic victory for Israel, but could become a singular and potent legal argument to make in court to save those same Israelis.

It is likely that any ICC case will depend heavily on the evidence collected by the (until now) Schabas Commission.

Israelis may be able to claim that the evidence itself is tainted and non-credible because it was collected by a commission run by Schabas.

However he and the UNHRC want to characterize his resignation, Israelis will have a very viable argument that his resignation was an admission of bias.

They will then be able to argue that such bias renders the commission’s evidence and the potential basis of the ICC’s cases tainted.

The UNHRC will be able to argue that Schabas’s resignation before the report was finished completely removes any cloud of bias from the report’s conclusions.

But Israelis would be able to counter that he resigned too late.

Had he resigned a few weeks after his August appointment, it would have been easier for the UNHRC and the ICC (in a future worst case scenario) to dismiss the bias argument.

But Schabas and the UNHRC have said that all of the evidence has already been collected, and he has run the show for five months, with a draft of the report likely to be completed in a matter of weeks and the final report due in only seven weeks.

Also, Schabas’s application specifically asked if he had any financial relationships that could be conflicts of interest, and he wrote “no,” despite his PLO relationship.

Following his resignation Schabas took a parting shot at Binyamin Netanyahu:

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.”

As Prof. Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor tweeted:

The Elder of Ziyon notes the utter condescension with which Schabas expressed his resignation from the Commission, revealing his own and the UNHRC’s character:

The complaint about my brief consultancy, as I understand it, is not about the content, which is of a technical legal nature, but the implication that in some way I am henceforth beholden to the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Perhaps there is also the suggestion that I might tailor my opinions in one direction in order to generate more such consulting for remuneration. If I were indeed motivated by financial gain, it would be hard to explain why I would have accepted the position as Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, to which I have gladly devoted several months of work and for which there is no remuneration whatsoever.

THis is dripping with his condescending attitude. Schabas cannot even allow that being paid by one of the parties under investigation, no matter how small, is enough to disqualify any judge; instead he pretends that his using the commission as a platform to attack Israel is simply a humanitarian gesture on his part.

His claim that his lack of remuneration proves that his motives are pure is as close to hogwash as one can imagine. His consultancy business would be expected to soar after a high profile UN commission of inquiry, and his fees for public speaking would easily go up by a factor of ten.

This part of the letter alone proves how little Schabas cares about truth and fairness. In a sane world, this in itself should be enough to ensure that his opinions are tainted forever more. Israel didn’t discredit Schabas; he discredited himself.

But the most telling part of his letter actually isn’t what it reveals about him, but what he unwittingly reveals about the UN Human Rights Council:

In early August 2014, when I was asked if I would accept a nomination to the Commission of Inquiry, I was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel ,,,

Can you imagine hiring anyone for any position where objectivity is a key component of the job, and not even asking a single question about such conflicts of interest?

On the contrary. Schabas’ description of how he was chosen implies that the UNHRC chose him because of his well-known attitudes towards Israel, not in spite of them!

Indeed the UN’s anti-Israel prejudice shines through with their choice of replacement for Schabas: Mary McGowan Davis, who served on the now-discredited Goldstone Report into Israel’s alleged war crimes (do you sense a pattern here?) during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

This is not to say that Davis is biased. I don’t know enough of her work. But the fact that, as they say in Israel, חבר מביא חבר – a friend brings a friend, that a discredited judge is allowed to nominate his successor, ought to be enough to taint the whole process.

Netanyahu was right to demand that the entire report be shelved.

“After the resignation of the committee chairman, who was biased against Israel, the report must not be published,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

The report was “initiated by the UNHRC, an anti-Israel body that has proven, in its decisions, that it has nothing to do with human rights,” the prime minister added in a statement, noting that in 2014, the council passed “more resolutions against Israel than Iran, Syria, and North Korea combined.”

Netanyahu maintained that the Israel Defense Forces acted in accordance with international law during the war, and said Hamas and terror groups should be the ones investigated, not Israel.

I’ll let Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman have the last word (from the above link):

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also hailed Schabas’s resignation Tuesday, but claimed that it would not change the committee’s conclusions. In fierce criticism of the appointment of the Canadian law professor, who has in the past voiced strong criticism of Israel, he likened Schabas’s role in the inquiry to “appointing Cain to investigate who murdered Abel.”

What a perfect analogy for an imperfect report from an even more imperfect institution.

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5 Responses to William Schabas resigns from UN’s anti-Israel Gaza inquiry

  1. Earl says:

    On behalf of all non-idiotarian Canadians, I unreservedly apologize for the hopelessly-conflicted conduct of this self-loathing, Jew-hating viper. No doubt he’s been quietly handed off to another taxpayer-funded, tax-exempt UN/quango sinecure to advance the jihad against West. Vomitous…

    As for Davis’ appointment? Anot [edited due to AiPT being a family-oriented BBS- ed.] Any association with Goldstone, however remote, disqualifies an individual from any suggestion of neutrality and impartiality towards Israel.

    • anneinpt says:

      No need to apologize. It happens in the best of families – everyone has at least one crazy uncle in the basement. Only of course he’s not crazy, just evil.

      Re Davis, I agree with you. I was just trying to be even-handed for the record. We shall see what happens next.

  2. Martin says:

    I imagine Schabas will now go on to teaching an ethics course in law?

    • anneinpt says:

      Oy. Heaven help us. You’re probably right. No one has said anything about him being totally discredited for not disclosing relevant information, which one would have thought would be a prerequisite for a law teacher.

  3. Pingback: The UNHRC publishes its Schabas Charade | Anne's Opinions

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