Former Head of UN Gaza Human Rights Probe Reportedly Lied About PLO-Linked Conflict of Interest


william-schabasBy B. Cohen

William Schabas, the Canadian academic who this week resigned as the head of a a UN inquiry into the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas because of a conflict of interest involving the Palestine Liberation Organization, may have lied in the job application he submitted to the international body, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.

In his resignation, Schabas stated that he “was not requested to provide any details on any of my past statements and other activities concerning Palestine and Israel” – among those activities was a commission to write a legal brief for the PLO in 2012 for which he was paid $1,300.

However, Schabas’ application form – which has been posted on the Elder of Ziyon website – suggests that he wasn’t telling the truth in his resignation letter either.

Asked in the section on Ethics whether he was aware of any “…professional” or “…financial relationships” that compromise the investigation in any way, he replied, “No.” Asked whether there were any extraneous factors that might compromise his independence in the role, Schabas again replied, “No.” Finally, asked whether there was a reason to question his “moral authority,” and if he held any opinion which might “prejudice the manner” in which he discharged his mandate, Schabas said, “No.”

Schabas was strongly attacked immediately after his resignation by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who pointed out his numerous anti-Israel statements and the biased nature of his mandate. “I wasn’t insulted,” he retorted. “To be insulted you need to respect the people who criticize you, and I don’t have respect for them.”

New York jurist Mary McGowan Davis will now take over the UN’s probe, despite calls from Israel to shut the down the investigation entirely. McGowan Davis, who in 2010 served on a UN panel monitoring Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the recommendations of the since discredited Goldstone Report into the 2009 Gaza conflict, is reported by some analysts to be much more balanced than Schabas.