Jerusalem – In a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict (“the COI”), NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute, warned the COI of the implications of failing to apply the principles of objectivity, non-selectivity, balance, and universality, and the history of the HRC’s disregard for legal and ethical standards. The submission also noted that the UN projected a $3 million budget for the politically motivated investigation of Israel. William Schabas, the head of the Commission, in alliance with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Palestinian Authority, seek to use the CIO as part of the campaign seeking to exploit the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “lawfare” attacks against Israel.
“While the Government of Israel has justifiably decided not to participate in another biased UN pseudo-investigation, as members of Israeli civil society we have a duty to communicate our concerns to the UN,” said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Advisor. “Our submission is a forceful reminder to the Schabas Commission: In order to avoid the abject failures of the past, particularly the 2009 Goldstone Report, the principles of impartiality, objectivity, and transparency must be applied. Unfortunately, we have no evidence or reason to expect that this COI will be any different from its predecessors in these core dimensions.”
NGO Monitor’s 79-page analysis documents numerous violations by NGOs and UN bodies of fact-finding standards and best practices. By design, UNHRC missions almost exclusively focus on the actions of Israel, while repeated and major violations committed by Palestinian actors or against Israeli citizens are all but ignored. Moreover, few, if any, mechanisms exist within the HRC (and the other UN) frameworks to verify and evaluate the allegations proffered by participating NGOs, resulting in a contravention of impartiality, objectivity, and non-selectivity.
As in the past, many of the allegations against Israel will be supplied by a select group of political NGOs that regularly participate in HRC frameworks. NGO Monitor has shown how NGO statements on armed conflicts, and the 2014 Gaza War in particular, lack credibility and were a primary reason the Goldstone Report was discredited.
Some of these NGOs also publish offensive imagery reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, imagery and themes of classical antisemitism, and remarks denigrating Judaism and right of the Jewish people to self-determination. NGO Monitor encourages the COI to speak out strongly against NGO promotion of antisemitism and to refuse to engage with NGOs that promote it.
Prior to the UNHRC resolution to establish the COI, the UN Programme Planning and Budget Division (UPPBD) noted that there was no funding for the Mission allotted in the HRC or UN budget. According to the UPPBD, the Mission would require a staggering $2,359,800 appropriation, including $566,900 for “simultaneous interpretation” and “pre-session documentation”; 1,125,300 for staffing, plus an additional $124,200 for unnamed “consultants,” including a “media expert consultant” and ” two media monitoring consultants”; $273,000 for commission and staff travel; and $18,000 for office equipment and supplies. There is no explanation as to why the proposed salaries are so grossly excessive, or why such large amounts are needed for “simultaneous interpretation” and travel.
“At a time when reconstruction efforts in Gaza have been suspended due to a lack of funds, the UN projected a budget of nearly $3 million for a one-sided, biased investigation against Israel,” continued Ms. Herzberg. “There are dozens of serious and horrifying human rights crises on-going globally, and even William Schabas has admitted that events in Gaza are ‘probably not, on a Richter scale of atrocity, at the top’.”