Hague-based NGO calls on the UN to stop inquiry of Israel one year after Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza
Alarming study concludes that the UNHRC investigation is the “most hostile anti-Israel inquisition in UN history” with a pre-determined outcome
A paper authored by The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) charged that the United Nations Human Rights Commission inquiry into Israel’s conduct during its 2021 operation against Hamas in Gaza is the “most hostile anti-Israel inquisition in UN history” and called on the organization to quit its investigation.
“The UNHRC has launched the most hostile anti-Israel inquisition in UN history. It is headed by… Navi Pillay, notorious for her antipathy to Israel throughout her tenure,” said Prof. Anne Bayefsky from Touro College in New York, who was quoted in the paper. “The new COI (commission of inquiry) has a pre-determined outcome.”
The 72-page report concludes that the commission of inquiry is a “legal failure, one-sided, open-ended, and over-resourced.” It deemed the inquiry's mission as “a priori biased against Israel” and, therefore, regards it as “a breach of the rule of law.”
The Hague-based non-profit, thinc., claims that the inquiry is a “flagrant misuse of the UN systems and resources and should have never been established.” thinc. assembled a team of international lawyers to address the inquiry’s implications in a startling paper. (The full report can be accessed here.)
The think tank, comprised of legal experts, called the commission “highly contentious,” “wasteful” and “biased.”
“This new mechanism is yet another example of how the UNHRC is treating the State of Israel differently (and less favorably) than every other UN member state. Under the UN Charter, the UNHRC and all member states are obliged to treat all UN member states equally,” according to the paper's executive summary. “Singling out Israel, without demonstrably compelling and urgent reasons to do so, is both a morally and legally unacceptable assault on the sovereign equality of the State of Israel.”
Launched exactly one year ago, the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip lasted 11 days during which the IDF struck over 1,500 terror targets. The air strikes came in response to almost 4,400 rockets that were fired at Israel by the terror organizations Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Israeli campaign was called Operation Guardian of the Walls.
Following the conflict, the UNHRC adopted a resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry that is currently still investigating Israel’s actions in Gaza. The commission is expected to publish its initial conclusions in the coming months.
The paper, released this week by thinc., notes that political support for the commission is marginal and points to its imbalance.
“Its mandate does not sufficiently reflect Hamas’ deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian property, indiscriminate attacks, and deliberate use of civilians in an effort to shield lawful military objectives from attack and to compel the infliction of civilian casualties for media purposes,” reads the paper.
The lawyers also highlight the bloated budget allocated for the inquiry, referring to the funding as “wasteful” and “an inappropriate and unjustifiable use of the UN’s resources.”
In December 2021, the UN General Assembly voted to fund the COI with an unprecedented annual budget of $5.5 million in the first two years alone. The paper notes that this is well over twice the total budget of the UNHRC inquiry on the Syrian civil war.
The organization of international lawyers has appealed to reverse the establishment of the inquiry and remove its budget. They also call for a major reform of the UNHRC.
“This reform should focus on investigating large-scale but politically ‘less appropriate’ human rights violations, such as by China and Russia. And the UNHRC’s bias against Israel must be brought to an end,” reads the conclusion.
Since its creation in 2006, the UNHRC has established 32 inquiries, one-third of which have focused entirely on Israel.
In response, 68 senators sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March, urging him to lead a multinational effort to end the ongoing inquiry on Israel.
Senators Ben Cardin and Rob Portman spearheaded the letter in which they argued that the commission is a “wasteful use of funds and personnel” based on “excessive devotion to disparaging Israel and discriminatory and unwarranted treatment of Israel,” while “fueling anti-Semitism worldwide.”
The senators further warned Blinken that the UN commission has a “carte blanche mandate in perpetuity,” and that the commission is “one-sided, unfairly singling out Israel while undermining the responsibility of the UNHCR of investigating human rights violations all around the world.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) commended the letter and thanked the senators who signed it.
"The COI (commission of inquiry) is a part of the UN’s broad, decades-long campaign to criminalize and delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state," AIPAC said.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.