Israel announces it won’t cooperate with UN Gaza probe

Investigators stranded in Amman, after Foreign Ministry denies entry request; decision backed by Liberman, Netanyahu

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

William Schabas (screen capture: YouTube)
William Schabas (screen capture: YouTube)

The Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday it would not cooperate with the UN inquiry into the summer Gaza conflict, and rejected an entry request issued by three members of the investigative committee seeking to gather evidence, leaving them stranded in Amman.

The decision not to cooperate with the probe was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

The UN team has been in Jordan for several days, awaiting Israeli permission to cross the border, Channel 2 reported. It said the members were using the time in Jordan to interview “witnesses” there.

The Foreign Ministry said the decision came about because of the UN Human Rights Council’s “obsessive hostility” toward Israel and “one-sided mandate.” It also cited anti-Israel statements made by inquiry head William Schabas as a factor in the move.

“While Hamas fired thousands of rockets toward Israel, the UN Human Rights Council decided it would determine in advance Israel’s ‘guilt’ and set up an investigative committee to serve as a rubber stamp to its known positions,” a ministry statement said.

“Since the Schabas commission is not an inquiry but a commission that gives its conclusions in advance, Israel will not cooperate with the UN Commission on Human Rights over the last conflict with Hamas,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

In August, Netanyahu intimated that Israel would not cooperate with the probe, although he did not explicitly rule it out. Liberman said earlier the same day that Israel should not cooperate with the investigation.

The head of the UN commission, Canadian law professor Schabas, came under fire with his appointment to the panel for what critics termed his antipathy to Israel after having called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stand trial at the ICC for war crimes.

In September, Schabas maintained he would not quit, despite Israeli pressure to do so.

“I do not hate Israel and do not want to engage in a debate regarding my previous positions on Israel,” Schabas told Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat in an interview. “I have had positions in the past concerning Palestine and Israel and they have nothing to do with my mission now. I will put my opinions aside during the investigation and they will have no bearing on it.”

In August, Netanyahu criticized the UN Security Council for choosing to investigate Israel rather than the nearby war-torn areas of Iraq or Syria.

“The committee chairman has already decided that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Therefore, they have nothing to look for here. They should visit Damascus, Baghdad and Tripoli. They should go see ISIS, the Syrian army and Hamas. There they will find war crimes, not here,” the prime minister said.

Elhanan Miller and AFP contributed to this report.

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