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NY Senator Demands UNHRC Dismiss Schabas

Sen. Charles Schumer says he will push for the U.S. to cut its financial support for UNHRC if Schabas heads Gaza inquiry.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/17/2014, 7:02 AM

UN Human Rights Council
UN Human Rights Council
Reuters

Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to rescind its recent appointment of William Schabas as head of the UNHRC’s Gaza Commission, the Washington Jewish Week reported.

According to the report, Schumer said that if Schabas’s appointment is not cancelled he will push for the United States to cut its financial support and participation in the council.

According to Schumer’s release, Schabas has a history of anti-Israel bias including previous statements condemning the state of Israel and Israeli politicians.

“[A]llowing Mr. Schabas to head the UN Gaza Commission is like allowing a biased prosecutor to be the judge,” Schumer said in a statement.

“[T]hat’s why I’m urging the United States to both stop all funding and pull out of the UN’s Human Rights Council if Mr. Schabas is not removed. Any investigative findings from Schabas on Israel will be completely subjective and a sham,” he added.

Schumer expressed his opinion in a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, according to the Washington Jewish Week.

The United States provides the UNHRC $1.5 million annually, which makes up 22 percent of the agency’s annual budget, according to Schumer’s release.

Speaking in a 2013 panel, Schabas clearly revealed his great eagerness to bring about the prosecution of Israel over its actions in Gaza, even if that involved “twisting things and maneuvering” in the international legal arena.

Asked about the possibility of prosecuting Israel for “ecocide” as well, Schabas expressed optimism on gradually enlarging the scope of legal accusations against Israel. “Years ago there were no courts at all,” he noted. “When [the term] 'genocide' was invented there was no court at all. There was no court for crimes against humanity, but we have them now. And with a bit of luck and by twisting things and maneuvering we can get them before the courts.”

Schabas did not deny Wednesday, in an interview with Israel's Channel 2, that the international community has a double standard regarding Israel's conduct of war.

Schumer’s office said that if Schabas is not removed the senator may consider introducing legislation to withhold regular budget and voluntary contributions to UNHRC.

So far, there are no other bills to completely withhold funding from UNHRC but others, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have also blasted UN agencies for anti-Israel bias, noted the Washington Jewish Week.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out at the UNHRC this week, accusing it of granting "legitimacy to terror organizations" by investigating Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has called on Israel not to cooperate with the UN’s probe. Finance Minister Yair Lapid called the UNHRC committee "a ridiculous committee of ridiculous commissionership, that instead of investigating the murder of millions of Muslims by other Muslims, investigates the most moral army on the planet; this is a disgrace for the UN."