Geneva, July 23 – After nearly two months where no credible figure would take the job, the UN Human Rights Council today named three commissioners to its inquiry on Israeli actions during the May 31 flotilla incident, but the probe’s credibility is marred by a predetermined verdict, said UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The mandate of the probe violates due process and objectivity by presuming Israeli guilt from the outset,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch executive director. “It’s another example of what former UN rights chief Mary Robinson recently described as the unfortunate and regrettable practice by the council to adopt resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics.”[See Note 1]
According to Neuer, “by declaring Israel guilty before any facts were even collected, the resolution taints the mission with prejudicial bias, and contravenes the UN’s own Declaration on Fact Finding, which requires objectivity and impartiality.”
“It speaks volumes that Khaled Mashaal, the leader of the Hamas terrorist group, asked for this probe-literally for the council to create ‘another Goldstone report’-while the Palestinian Authority actually opposed it,” said Neuer.
“The perception of the council’s one-sided approach and lack of credibility is so severe that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office in New York has completely ignored this probe in seeking to establish their own.”
“Tragically, rather than contribute to defusing the Arab-Israeli conflict and bringing people together with an objective, human rights approach, the council has played a divisive role with inflammatory statements that only increase frictions,” said Neuer.
Background on Resolution HRC 14/1 Establishing the Probe:
The Resolution: Barely 48 hours after the incident, the probe was created by a June 2, 2010 council resolution, initiated by the council’s Islamic and Arab groups of states, that condemned Israel “in the strongest terms” as guilty of committing an “outrageous attack” on the flotilla. Despite video evidence already available at the time, the resolution omitted any reference to the beating of Israeli soldiers by Turkish IHH militants brandishing knives, axes and metal rods, and of their televised admissions to seeking Jihad and martyrdom.
Who Voted For It: Those countries voting in favor of the resolution included China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia. The U.S., Italy and Netherlands voted against it. France, Britain, Japan, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, South Korea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Zambia, and Madagacar all abstained or deliberately chose to absent themselves.
Hamas Called for Probe: As the Human Rights Council was meeting for its urgent debate on the flotilla, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal demanded the creation of a probe like the council’s 2009 Goldstone Report.
Addressing a crowd of masses in the Yemeni capital of Sana on June 1, Mashal accused Israel of committing serious crimes against the flotilla and urged the international community not to let the Jewish state escape punishment. Mashaal congratulated “all the countries and nations which stood by our side.”
“We need a new ‘Goldstone report,’ which will condemn Israel,” said Mashaal. “In addition, (Israeli Defense Minister Ehud) Barak, (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and all the Zionist leaders must be put on trail for being war criminals.” Mashaal thanked the sail’s participants and Turkey, and called on all Arab countries to adopt a similar policy to the one taken by Ankara against Israel.
Palestinian Authority Opposed It: According to the Electronic Intifada news website, the Palestinian Authority actively sought to frustrate the Human Rights Council’s establishment of the probe, because its officials understood that it would strengthen Hamas, emboldening extremists over moderates.
 See Mary Robinson quote here, from Geneva’s Le Temps, Feb. 4, 2009.
 Roee Nahmias, “Mashal wants Goldstone report on sail,” Ynet, June 1, 2010.
5] Asa Winstanley, “Exclusive: Leaked documents show PA undermined Turkey’s push for UN flotilla probe,” The Electronic Intifada, 22 June 2010, at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11350.shtml.