Israel has dismissed an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Gaza by the U.N. Human Rights Council as a “kangaroo court.”
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denounced the inquiry, saying that “the Human Rights Council had long ago turned into the ‘terrorist rights council’ and a kangaroo court, whose ‘investigations’ are pre-determined.”
William Schabas, a Canadian professor of international law, will head the panel whose other members are Doudou Diene, a Senegalese veteran U.N. human rights expert.
Schabas denied Foreign Ministry charges that he is “anti-Israeli.”
“I am not anti-Israeli,” Schabas told Israel Radio on Tuesday in an interview from London. As credentials, he cited frequent lectures in Israel and membership in the [International Advisory Board] of the Israel Law Review.
“I would not do those things if I were anti-Israel,” Schabas said.
In the past, Schabas supported the allegations contained in the Goldstone report of Israeli war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. He has also participated in the Russell Tribunal, a citizen’s group which accuses Israel of being an international outlaw.
Israel isn’t alone in its view of the U.N. panel. The non-governmental group U.N. Watch called on Schabas to recuse himself because in the past he has stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres should be indicted before the International Criminal Court.
Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird slammed the panel on Monday night.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council continues to be a sham for advancing human rights; today’s announcement of members of its Gaza inquiry reveals its agenda,” Baird wrote.
“It’s an utter shame, and will do nothing to promote peace and dignity in Gaza for the Palestinian people,” he said.
The panel is to report by March 2015 to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel has long accused the 47-member state forum of bias against it.