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Nitsana Shurat HaDin -Israel Law Center sits in Tel Aviv’s offices of Shurat HaDin on an unseasonably sunny Sunday afternoon. She describes the problems Israel faces as a result of the United Nations in forthcoming weeks.

Her serene, almost peaceful demeanor conceals the fierce opposition Israel will likely face from the UN Human Rights Council and its three-member Commission of Inquiry. This was ordered by the UN in order to “investigate as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel any allegations of violations of international humanitarian and other human rights law up until and including the 13th day of April, 2021.”

While there have been prior UN investigations into Israel however, the main difference between the current and prior UN investigations is the fact that this commission was created for a continuous inquiry that would continue to probe Israel as well as the IDF. The mandate of the commission was not a set date.

Darshan-Leitner was the founder of Shurat HaDin in 2003. “The UN Human Rights Council inquiry is not coming out in a vacuum,” she explains. It is linked to the events at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In 1998 in 1998, the Rome Statute established the ICC. The court can prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity as well as genocide and war crimes as well as aggression. Israel was initially supportive of the concept of an international tribunal, however, it was concerned that it might be used against it. Israel and the US and a host of other nations have not signed the law or ratified it. This means that they are not legally bound or obligation to adhere to the rulings of the ICC.

Fatou Bensouda the ICC prosecutor from The Hague announced in March 2021 that she would be opening a war-crimes probe against Israel, Hamas, and other countries.

A decision by the International Court against Israel could have major implications. Most European and Scandinavian countries have joined the court and legally bound to respect the court’s decisions. If the ICC declared that IDF soldiers were guilty of war crimes All Israelis who were involved in IDF military operations could be detained. This includes people who travel in the member states like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Economic sanctions that are harsh could be imposed on the Jewish state and its banking sector.

Israel might also be exposed to additional risk, like sanctions and weapon embargoes. For example, El Al or other Israeli carriers may not be permitted to operate in certain countries.

Bensouda’s tenure as prosecutor ended in June 2021. He was replaced by Karim Khan Karim Khan, who is a British barrister. Bensouda had 14 investigations that included eight active investigations. Karim Khan was the new prosecutor who was able to take over all of them. Shurat Hadin Darshan Leitner explains that he classified all matters on his docket at the stage of planning, much to the dismay of Palestinians. This was a polite way to say that the claims didn’t merit the court’s attention or weren’t urgent enough.

Darshan Leitner: “This upset the Palestinian Authority.” “They could not understand why their enormous efforts to get the prosecutor to launch an investigation have not succeeded.”

In September 2021, PA demanded the creation of a Commission in the International Court of Justice to persuade Karim Khan to reconsider his position.

Darshan Leitner claims that the PA has continued to accuse Israel for war crimes and apartheid since then. Amnesty International reported in February that Israel was accused of committing apartheid violations outside and inside the Green Line. The report claimed that Israel “has created and maintained an oppression system against Palestinians” and accused Israel with the racial segregation of Palestinians since 1948.

Darshan Leitner says that Palestinian demands against Israel are focusing on the International Criminal Court on two areas: IDF Military Operations and the issue of Israeli Settlements. They claim to be war crimes.

Karim Khan, the ICC prosecutor is being urged by Palestinians to prioritize Israel’s investigation on the “apartheid claim. This new claim was not investigated in the preliminary investigation Bensouda initiated. She says that “whatever gets the investigation moving is legitimate according to their view, and regardless of what it is or whether it’s true.”

KARIM KHAN, new ICC prosecutor. Shurat Hadin (Credit: Michael Kooren/Reuters)
The three-member Commission of Inquiry (led by Navi Pillay (South Africa) and comprising Miloon Kthari (India), and Chris Sidoti [Australia), is the latest attempt to convince The Hague.

Darshan Leitner claims that Pillay Kothari and Sidoti have a history of expressing biases towards Israel. “Pillay herself has made allegations against Israel for its apartheid policies. It was her spirit behind the antisemitic Durban conferences. “The others are following in the footsteps of these leaders.”

The UN Human Rights Council 49th session (HRC49) is held in Geneva’s office from February 28 to April 1. It is anticipated that the primary focus of the session will be the report the commission of inquiry will release about Operation Guardian of the Walls The Israeli operation in Gaza that occurred in the month of May 2021, in response to missiles Hamas launched at Israel. This session is likely to witness Israel being accused of war crime and apartheid, as well as crimes against humanity.

Darshan Leitner stated that, although Israel is not cooperating with the inquiry commission or be involved in the investigation, Shurat haDin cannot ignore the allegations to be made from the commission.

Darshan Leitner declares that there are two possible options to combat the Pillay Commission. One is the factual one, which rebuts the allegations of apartheid. Another is the personal angle that focuses on members’ lack impartiality.

Her previous experience, she claims, shows that it’s highly unlikely that Shurat HaDin or any other person, or anyone else is able to influence those already uninformed about Israel to reconsider their views.

Shurat Haidin suggests that Shurat Hadin is more interested in illustrating that all the members of the commission of inquiry are biased towards Israel and that the UN will be willing to sacrifice its fundamental values as well as any notion of fairness to delegitimize Israel.

Darshan Leitner: “We are planning to launch a campaign that demands the resignation of all COI member.” “We are planning to organize mass petitions for legal action against the COI as well as its member and all other individuals who assist the COI.”

Shurat HaDin also plans to show that the PA as opposed to Israel are the true violators of human freedoms. “We are going to look through their laws and identify what we know: the gender discrimination that is imposed on children, women and those belonging to the LGBTQ community, as well as their flawed law system. Do you know that a PA law allows one to legally rape his wife? Marital rape is not an offense under their ‘advanced human-rights-friendly’ legislation.

This is only one example of the UN’s “champions of human rights who the UN is eager to help. While they accuse Israel of being apartheidist, they support a regime which hasn’t had elections for 15 year and that systematically violates the rights of its citizens.

Darshan Leitner stated that Shurat Hasina will also expose the world to the inhumane discrimination against minorities in Gaza as well as Gaza, the PA territories, and Gaza. Their numbers are steadily decreasing. Islamic extremists are on the rise, calling to massacre “infidels” and are more dangerous than ISIS.

According to Shurat HaDin, Israel committed grave errors when it was handling a UNHRC investigation into South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s 2009 trial. Jerusalem refused to cooperate the Goldstone Commission during that famous episode. They claimed that the Goldstone Commission was biased and had an agenda that was predetermined. This wouldn’t have any impact on the ability of Jerusalem to work in a legitimate manner with the Goldstone Commission. Israel was subject to numerous tensions following the final, harshly critiqued report.

“I believe that we did not play the cards right although I am in agreement with Israel’s refusal to cooperate or assist in the hateful Goldstone witch-hunt. It isn’t enough to just not acknowledge the UNHRC and label them as prejudiced or haters. The government should add to its position by launching an effective and well-planned campaign to disseminate it’s own propaganda, and to combat the antisemitic UNHRC. She suggests that we be vocal, take action and pursue legal actions when the government has its hands tied.”

Darshan Leitner is trying to fill in the gaps. She summarizes the current situation and explains that ultimately the goal of the PA is to influence the Hague’s chief prosecutor. “If I can tear down the basis of the Hague’s commission, show how misguided it, and how apartheid is a lie, it will demonstrate that the commission is devoid of any worth.”

“If we do not do this, the consequences is going to be disastrous. The prosecutor could be influenced to alter his mind. It would be a tragic and devastating development. It can’t go on for long.”