The United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) report on Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge is slated to be released Monday, but already it is being lambasted. Several media outlets are reporting on the comments of Israeli politicians and others across the political spectrum.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the investigation committee of being a sham, saying it pronounced Israel “guilty even before the examination began.” Speaking to Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, he noted that the UNHRC has passed more resolutions against Israel than against North Korea, Syria and Iran combined.
He also pointed out that the man initially appointed head of the commission, Canadian lawyer William Schabas, noted for his anti-Israel stance, was once in the employ of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Schabas was forced to step down due to ethical violations.
Netanyahu is not alone in preemptively dismissing the UN report. Speaking in London to Britain’s Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Zionist Camp co-chair Tzipi Livni said, “It is important that the British government have an accurate picture of the factual, ethical, and legal reality, because the UN report is expected to be so twisted and anti-Israel.”
Likewise, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid had harsh criticism for the anticipated report. He described it as having been “born in sin” and further evidence that the UN “had lost its mind.”
“A quarter of a million people dead in Syria, Iraq is falling apart, beheadings in Saudi Arabia, a million dead in Sudan, Libya has ceased to exist as a functioning state, and only Israel is obsessively investigated again and again and again, always with the assumption that the Jews are to blame for everything,” Lapid said.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said Israel must fight the upcoming report, “just like we fought against Orange’s boycott,” referring to Orange Telecom CEO Stephane Richard’s claim that he would pull his company out of Israel “tomorrow” if he could.
“The time has come to go on the offensive,” Bennett continued. “There are good guys and bad guys here: one society that protects kindergartners and another that hides rockets inside kindergartens. Those who are blinded by anti-Semitism ought to do some soul-searching.
“I saw with my own eyes how the [Israeli] army sacrificed the basic principles of combat to avoid harming civilians, who turned out any number of times to be combatants in disguise,” he said. “If we stand firm, the Schabas report will end up just like the Goldstone one did. Even when we are attacked and judged, we will never forget for a moment that we are in the right.”
Meanwhile, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) called the yet-unpublished UN report “trash”.
“There is no need to wait for the UN report that is due to be released in a few days in order to know that it will not be worth the paper it is printed on,” Israel National News quoted Lieberman as saying.
“That report is being released by the UN Human Rights Commission,” he continued. “There is no group in the world whose essence is the opposite of its name, with ‘enlightened’ countries like Cuba and Libya as its important members.”
Israel refused to cooperate with the UNHRC’s investigation, whose mandate was only to examine Israel’s actions and not those of Hamas. It is widely expected that the report will be the basis for charges of war crimes the Palestinians wish to bring against Israel at the International Criminal Court. Instead, Israel launched its own investigation into Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day conflict in Gaza which cost over 2,000 lives. In a move designed to combat the UNHRC report, the state published its report days earlier.
Netanyahu stated that Israel’s report demonstrates “unequivocally that our military actions during that conflict were in full accordance with international law, that Israel was exercising its legitimate right of self-defense.
“There is no country that investigates its military for possible wrongdoing more than Israel,” he added. “We examine all such allegations professionally, thoroughly; they are subjected to independent judicial review by military and civilian courts.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the report “provides a clear message that the rule of law prevails in Israel, and that Israel fulfills all international rules of warfare. There are many in the international arena who seek to present a false, opposite view. But anyone who wishes to see the truth will realize that the IDF acted properly.”