The United States “remains concerned” about the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “one-sided” commission of inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza, even after the resignation of its head, William Schabas, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
In her daily press briefing, Psaki was asked about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments following Schabas’s resignation, in which he said the committee's report should go unpublished.
“Well, we oppose the creation of the commission of inquiry in the first place. So we remain concerned,” Psaki responded.
“Given the one-sided nature of the resolution that created the commission of inquiry and the history of the HRC stance on Israel, we still don’t believe that such a mechanism as the commission of inquiry contributes to the shared goal and priority of reaching a sustainable and durable agreement. That has long been – has been consistently our view,” she added.
Schabas cited Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the reason for his resignation.
In a letter to the UNHRC, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.
Schabas is well-known for his bias against Israel. Speaking in a 2013 panel, Schabas clearly revealed his great eagerness to bring about the prosecution of Israel over its actions in Gaza, even if that involved “twisting things and maneuvering” in the international legal arena.
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor compared appointing Schabas to head the inquiry to "choosing Count Dracula to run a blood bank," and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel should not cooperate with the probe.
Meanwhile, the UNHRC later on Tuesday appointed Mary McGowan Davis, already a member of the inquiry, to succeed Schabas.
McGowan Davis, a former New York judge, was part of the 2009 Goldstone committee which accused Israel of "war crimes" in the 2008-9 counter-terror Operation Cast Lead.
Israel rejected the findings of the report which was widely assessed as being blatantly biased and incomplete, and even Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the committee, later retracted the core accusation of "war crimes" leveled in the report.