Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Philadelphia Bulletin: Calls at the UN to Bring Israel to Trial

by David Bedein

Jerusalem - Tension is mounting in Israel as it awaits the publication of the Goldstone Commission’s report, which inquired into allegations directed against Israel relating to Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. The report is set to be published in the next few days.

The commission, headed by a South African judge, was established by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and is largely regarded as anti-Israel. Israel has refused to cooperate with the commission and argues that it has predicated much of its findings on false and biased information that it obtained from Hamas. There is concern that the findings will be quite harsh and serve as a basis for litigation against Israel for “war crimes”.

UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navanethen Pillay, the South African judge, who hosted the anti-Israel Durban 2 conference last April, has already made clear her hope that the UN will ask The Hague to begin proceedings against Israel.

Pillay’s position is based on the Darfur precedent, since Israel has not ratified the international court’s charter and is not a member of it. The UN Security Council is authorized to order the start of litigation against countries that are not members of the court, and in the case of Darfur, the council did indeed instruct the court to start procedures against senior Sudanese officials for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. She said she hoped that the UN Security Council would respond in kind if the Goldstone Commission found possible war crimes.

Meanwhile the current president of the UN Human Rights Council rejected the demand of the “UN Watch” that British jurist Christine Chinkin be disqualified from the Goldstone Commission. The group argued that statements and articles by Chinkin in which she accused Israel of war crimes even before the commission had begun its work, which indicated that she held a predetermined bias.

View the original article in the Philadelphia Bulletin

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