Issue 372: U.N. names 3 commissioners for new probe against Israel

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GENEVA, July 6 – The UN Human Rights Council today began its sixth inquiry into alleged Israeli violations, naming three female jurists: Christine Chanet of France, Unity Dow of Botswana and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan (photos above, left to right).

“I have appointed three highly distinguished individuals to carry out the Council’s fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem,” said UNHRC President Laura Dupuy Lasserre.

However, the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch expressed concerns over the probe’s lack of balance, noting the mandate’s failure to address any violations by the Palestinian side.

Established by a March resolution, the terms of the inquiry provide that it will only examine Israeli actions and how they impact the human rights of Palestinians. Instead of acknowledging that there are human rights victims on all sides, the inquiry’s mandate is one-sided and lacks credibility.

Its terms were framed in a 4-page resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab and Islamic groups, that omits any reference to Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians, including the hundreds of rockets fired recently from Gaza and Sinai into Israeli towns and villages.

The only victims it contemplates are Palestinians, the only perpetrator, Israel. In the guise of human rights, Syria and other oppressive regimes sponsored the inquiry to deflect attention from their own crimes, to scapegoat Israel, and to erode its international standing.

UN Watch today called on the commissioners — including Asma Jahangir, whose sister Hina Jilani served on the U.N.’s controversial Goldstone commission in 2009 — not to commit the same errors of the Goldstone Report, which Judge Goldstone famously acknowledged two years later.

The watchdog group expressed particular concern that the head of the inquiry, Christine Chanet, recentlyaccused Israel of “total discrimination,” and stated that “it is very difficult to have a real dialogue (with Israel).”Her comments do not reflect the impartial attitude and approach required under international law for fact-finders.

When Ms. Jahangir earlier served as the Human Rights Council’s expert on religious freedom, the Washington Post in 2005 published a UN Watch letter complaining about her record.

Ms. Jahangir had ignored detailed petitions sent over 18 months concerning state-sponsored, hate-filled Saudi and Egyptian schoolbooks. By contrast, she had criticized the Danish government for being insufficiently quick to condemn a newspaper’s one-time publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

The new U.N. probe has no deadline for when it will publish its report.

The office of High Commissioner Navi Pillay has organized a secretariat to assist the three new commissioners, but the staffers were not named.