William Schabas is heading the UN Commission with a guilty verdict already ready. He even blames Netanyahu for Ehud Olmert’s Operation Cast Lead.
Prof. William Schabas, head of the UN Commission of Inquiry into Protective Edge, wants to see Netanyahu tried by the ICC. His reason? The Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead • Somehow, the fact that Netanyahu was in the opposition at the time doesn’t bother him • This doesn’t seem to be a slip of the tongue: Schabas has targeted Netanyahu in the past • When legal pretentiousness and hypocrisy come together at the UN Human Rights Council
The appointment of Canadian Professor William Schabas to head the UN’s commission of Inquiry into Protective Edge has set off a firestorm of accusations of his bias, prejudice and even anti-Semitism. One of the main pieces of evidence was his statement a year ago at a conference that the man he’d most like to see in the dock at the ICC is Netanyahu. In light of this, the Foreign Ministry has stated that the Commission is effectively a kangaroo court and Israel will therefore not cooperate with the Commission. The honorable professor gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 2, and he was asked to explain to the Israeli public and the whole world, why the accusations are incorrect. Let’s see what he had to say:
Q: Mr. Schabas, a year ago you said that the man you’d most like to see brought before the International Criminal Court is Prime Minister Netanyahu. Not the President Assda of Syria, not Hamas leader Khaled Mashal. You said “Netanyahu”. Can you explain why?
A: We were having a discussion about the International Criminal Court, and the fact that the International Criminal Court had focused all of its attention on African countries. I had referred to a statement by Archbishop Tutu where he had said Tony Blair should be brought before the International Criminal Court to show that it can deal with Western countries as well as with countries from the south and particularly, from Africa. And so I said “Well, my favorite would be Netanyahu.” I was, of course, echoing what was in the Goldstone Report, which is that the International Criminal Court should deal with the conclusions of the Goldstone Report, concluding the possibility that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed during Operation Cast Lead, but as you know the International Criminal Court never did address those matters. So that was the context of my comment.
Firing the Arrow and Drawing the Target
So even given the opportunity, Schabas did not recant or walk back his statement. He would like to see Netanyahu tried based on the findgins of the Goldstone Report. There’s only one problem: the Prime Minister responsible for the “alleged crimes” of Operation Cast Lead is none other than Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu was head of the opposition at the time and had nothing to do with it. Thus, already at the beginning of the interview, Schabas revealed his severe bias: as far as he’s concerned, Netanyahu is guilty regardless of the facts. Schabas can already see the prestige he can gain by being the man who puts Bibi in the dock in the ICC. Meanwhile, Schabas is not even willing to call Hamas a terrorist organization (“It would be inappropriate for me to answer a question like that”.)
This wouldn’t be the first time Schabas had shown such an attitude towards Netanyahu. Already in 2010, he wrote an article in a law journal that Netanyahu is the man most likely to threaten Israel’s existence. His evidence? Netanyahu’s statement that “we face three strategic challenges: Iran’s nuclear program, rockets fired at us and the Goldstone Report.” Not Hamas, not Hizballah and not Iran – the greatest danger to Israel is its own Prime Minister, who dares to defy the word of UN legists and argue for the innocence of his country. According to this logic, Emil Zola was a traitor and a criminal for daring to charge the French Courts with falsely convicting Alfred Dreyfuss.
If that’s not bad enough, Schabas himself admitted that “there are lots of double standards at the United Nations,” and as a result “some atrocities in some areas of violent conflict in the world” which “is explained by the political balances and the relative strength of the powers.” Yet after all this, Schabas continues to argue that he can be objective and neutral. And people wonder why Israelis are so distrustful of the UN…
English translation by Avi Woolf.